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October 16, 2018

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - postgame 3

Red Sox - 8, Astros - 2

THE MODERATOR: Questions for A.J. Hinch.

Q. You guys were in that one and then it blows up with Osuna. You come into this game saying you guys hadn't really played clean baseball those first two games. What did you see from your team today?
A.J. HINCH: We played clean. We didn't get a two-out hit. We didn't get into the game very easily. The top of their order did a good job getting a couple of runs in the first, and they run the latter third of the game with the explosive inning.

Cleanliness, we caught the ball, we played pretty good defense. We made some great plays. It's a 3-2 ballgame until all hell broke loose in the eighth inning. A couple of hit by pitches and a huge swing by Bradley and there's the game.

Q. What did you like about the matchup with Smith starting the sixth inning there?
A.J. HINCH: He's really good against righties. And I almost took Dallas out after four. And with all those right-handed guys coming up a third time through, Dallas got through the fifth. And once the game got tied we were going to match up perfectly. We loved the matchups.

He came in got an awkward swing on Bogaerts. Threw a really, really good pitch. If you look where the pitch is, it's really hard to get that ball airborne and hit it as far as Pearce did. And then Devers, we had Sipp ready. I left the bottom of the order, keeping Moreland and Holt on the bench. Sipp is really good with righties. But to start the inning we loved the matchup.

Q. You spoke before the game about a one-run game in a playoff is like a tied game, a two-run game is like a one-run game. Is that using Osuna in the eighth there, is that --
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, we're trying to win the game, trying to keep it at the one-run game with the really effective closer against the middle part of their order. We get out of that 3-2, we've got plenty of outs left, and you never know what can happen as we saw.

Q. Osuna has been so good for you. What did you think was off for him tonight?
A.J. HINCH: It looked like a couple of weird things. He had the infield hit to Bogaerts. He had a fielder's choice, a great play by Bregman, his defense was pretty good. And then the hit by pitches. Barely touches Holt. They replay it and we all thought it hit him. And then gets the two-strike count to Moreland and hits him going up and in.

That sets up the Bradley at-bat, no margin for error. Big swing. It's really a matter of he didn't finish at-bats as well as he normally does, whether it's going to pitches or executing the pitch, execution was a little bit of a problem at the end of at-bats. And he lost a lot of those at-bats and huge time at the game.

Q. You said after Game 2 anyone thought that they would roll over after Game 1 is crazy. Does this show the world, you don't win 108 games by accident?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, I don't think we're going to roll over either. So we'll see you back here at 7:09 tomorrow night. We'll be ready to play. It's at 7:09? 7:39. Be here at 7:09 just in case.

Q. How tough is it do you think for Osuna and also for Joe Smith to pop up when they haven't pitched in a while? Did you guys talk about that at all?
A.J. HINCH: Not a lot we could do. I guess I could put them both in the game at a different time, but there's not a lot of soft landings in the playoffs against the Red Sox. I think some time off may or may not -- you have to ask those guys. I can't manage it differently based on trying to find a soft landing for them because they haven't pitched.

I don't know if rust is an issue. I don't know if that -- it didn't look like it. Joe Smith executed all his pitches. He got a little bit of bad luck on a ball down and in to Pearce. That wasn't a problem. Osuna, he's done as much as he can to be ready. So at this point I don't think that's a huge issue.

Q. What did you think of Tony Kemp's catch?
A.J. HINCH: I thought that was excellent. That's about as high as I've seen him jump. He needed to get up on that wall a little bit. Great athlete. We've seen some acrobatic catches out of him in left field and center field when he's been out there. And at the time it's a game-changer.

That's a completely different inning if he hits that ball a foot further or if Tony can't get up on the wall and make that catch. So I thought it saved -- he saved Dallas staying in the game. It saved some innings out of our bullpen and kept us right where we needed to be.

Q. You've had concerns about Altuve's knee, DHed him today. Did you watch him bust it down the line on that bunt, did that give you --
A.J. HINCH: The straight line doesn't bother me. And I think it's the most comfortable that he is in running in a straight line. The change of direction is a little bit of an issue. The turns don't look completely comfortable. And this guy is such a perfect example to anyone that watches baseball and how to compete and play.

So I have no doubt he's going to post tomorrow. I'm either going to DH him or play him at second. But he's leaving it all out there.

Q. You mentioned not able to get the two-out hit and just the offense being quiet and that's kind of unusual for them. How frustrating is that for you to watch?
A.J. HINCH: It's frustrating because we want to just give ourselves as many opportunities and you hope you mix -- their side, Eovaldi had something to do about us not getting a two out hit. You feel if you give yourself enough opportunity something will go your way.

Marwin did get the base hit and ignited us. Bregman did get the hit and we got one across. You're not going to be perfect at this stage of the year with facing really good pitching when they execute their pitches. But if we do feel like we give ourselves enough opportunities, then we're going to find that hit. Tonight not as much at some times where we felt like we had them on the ropes. Maybe we chase them out of the game, tax their bullpen a little bit. It wasn't the case tonight.

Q. Are you aware of this report that came out today that is accusing your team of stealing signs? And if so what are your thoughts on that?
A.J. HINCH: I'm aware of something going on, but I haven't been briefed. I'm worried about the game.

Q. Last year in the ALCS you guys were down 3-2 to the Yankees, lost three straight. World Series, it's tough. You haven't been down that many times in the playoffs the last couple of years. When you have you bounced back, calm, cool and resilient. And how much do you like that you've been there before and you see the best of your team in these situations?
A.J. HINCH: I like our players, and I think you're players will come ready to play tomorrow. We don't have to worry about being down or up. It takes four wins to win this series.

They know that, we know that. We're down 2-1. But it's about tomorrow night's game. The series can't end tomorrow regardless either way. It sure will be better if we win.

Q. Boston's lineup is good, led the league in runs. When Bradley makes that kind of an impact at the bottom of the line how much tougher does that make it?
A.J. HINCH: He had eight or nine home runs on the year. He does damage out of the 8 or 9 hole, wherever he's hitting. You can't limp into any part of this lineup or their lineup or any good team's lineup.

Certainly part of controlling the top of their order, which is something that everyone is obsessed with when you face the Red Sox -- Betts is good, Benintendi, Martinez -- if you can control the bottom part of the lineup that's great. But we haven't. And two games in a row, where Bradley's been in this spot to have the big at-bat and he's won of them, it makes them a tougher offense to get through.

Q. You haven't had Osuna for as long as a lot of other guys. He's never given up a grand slam in a situation like this, period but not ever. What's your approach with him, what do you say to him to get him --
A.J. HINCH: I told him on the mound, I said there's going to be some big outs we'll need from him in the rest of the series. He'll clear his mind. The closers have a short memory, especially him. And we're going to expect him to close out tomorrow night's game with the lead.

Q. He's done a good job here overall, Osuna, after uncomfortable beginning. What have you done here to make it that good environment for him to thrive in?
A.J. HINCH: It's more about what the guys have done, accepting him into our culture, getting him up and running with how we operate. We have a very close-knit group in there and he's absorbed some of that love and affection and he'll get that tonight. He'll be ready to go tomorrow.

There's no pouting around here. There's no panic around here. It's just get ready for tomorrow's game. We've done a really good job of being center focused on what the next situation is. And we expect that out of our players that have been there. We encourage that when guys get over here. And at 7:39 tomorrow night we'll be ready to play.


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