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October 5, 2019

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - postgame 2

Houston - 3, Tampa Bay - 1

Q. A.J., back-to-back games where you have dominant pitching. Your thoughts overall on what you saw from Gerrit tonight.
A.J. HINCH: That's an easy one to brag about because he was incredible. He had complete command of the entire game. He lasted, you know, very deep into the game. He was strong at the end. He got punch-outs on virtually every pitch. Different areas of the strike zone. He was creative.

I don't know. It's hard to put into words exactly what his performance meant to us tonight. But, man, he was good. What a game.

Q. A.J., obviously, he's been so good for you all year. Is this the best you've seen him?
A.J. HINCH: Given where we're at in the schedule, I think it's pretty impressive. It's hard. I don't know that he's -- you know, I never not feel good about him. This guy has been incredibly dominant for so long. The circumstances, the team, the environment, the time of year. It's hard to top that performance.

But I'm not going to doubt him. I mean, he gets the ball again this postseason, he's just as equipped to do even better. I know he was really working hard to finish -- they worked him really hard at the end. The beginning and the end where they really stressed him. But he had the nine-inning mentality from the very beginning of the game, and I wasn't going to take him out until I absolutely had to.

Q. A.J., your overall thoughts on Osuna's ninth inning. Do you think he was impacted by the long wait between the eighth and ninth and did you consider going to Harris earlier in the inning?
A.J. HINCH: Maybe he was impacted. We asked a lot out of him tonight, and I thought he did everything he could. I have to credit the Rays for the at-bats they put up in the ninth inning rather than take anything away from Osuna. He made some really good pitches that they laid off. Some where they normally swing where they didn't. I think they put up really good at-bats.

This time of the year, we ask so much out of our guys, especially out of the bullpen guys. He was working his tail off to pitch around the big hit.

And, obviously, drew a couple walks because of it. We almost turned a double play, and then Yuli makes a good play at the end.

I got Will Harris up fairly early in that inning so I absolutely considered bringing him in. But every matchup was in the favor of Osuna right until the very end when I pulled him. I thought the walk at the end was enough and a fresh arm in Will Harris in the big moment was what I wanted.

Q. Did you think any time over the last two or three years that people in the game were saying, Oh, starting pitching is not that important. We can figure a way around it?
The second part is, when you have guys this good, what does it do for your club when they're coming in and looking at the lineup card?

A.J. HINCH: I don't really take much interest in the way people talk about the industry pitching, because I think you have to manage your own team and the personnel that you have. We got some pretty big boys that can pitch.

Philosophically, whether it's about the new-age opener or pulling guys third time through, most of the people that support that haven't had Verlander or Cole on their team. Even going back to the pitching staff that we had over the last couple of seasons.

So there's going to be a point in time -- there's always a point in time to do a little bit of everything, including leave your starter in for 100 to 120 pitches because of who they are and what they do and the stuff that they're throwing.

So it's hard for me to relate to having to pull guys early or wanting to pull guys early when these guys are putting up these kinds of performances. I'm going to roll with these boys while we have them. If I have to manage differently because of the game, then so be it.

Q. A.J., you described Cole dominant, precision, things like that. You also used the word "creative." What does that mean?
A.J. HINCH: Going through these lineups, this is a very difficult team to get through. The other side, this goes back into the way the season goes. He faces so many different lineups, and I've seen teams load him up with righties because of the breaking ball to lefties. I've seen guys stack the lefties. You've seen guys go up and try to ambush him. You've seen guys be patient, try to drive his pitch count up. He adapts and adjusts to that.

When you get as many strikeouts in different ways, across the board, it was five each, sliders, curveballs and fastballs. So that's super creative. That's just not throwing 100. That's locating your pitches. It's mixing your pitches. It's getting punch-outs to the same hitter in different ways. It's sensing the moment of when he needed to change his game plan.

That performance where he can do that much in so many different ways is the definition of creativity.

Q. A.J., I have two questions, actually. As the postseason continues, would you consider putting Harris in to a save situation ahead of Osuna? I'll start with that.
A.J. HINCH: Osuna's our guy. Osuna's our guy. He'll get the ball when he needs to get the ball and when we expect him to get the last three outs. There's always a consideration for just putting the guys out there against the match-ups. But I believe in Osuna, and I believe he's the best matchup most of the time.

Q. I want to ask you about the stool and the ball boy. So your perspective on that? Did you know the rule ahead of time that the stool, I guess, is part --
A.J. HINCH: Part of the play. I knew that. He tried to get it out of the way. I didn't see the highlight. It looked like he grabbed it. I don't blame him. That's unlucky more than bad. I think he tried to take a swipe at it. That ball's coming in pretty hot.

A little unlucky on our part. I wish it would have gone through the gap there or gotten down into the corner and I think Tuck scores. It was a great hit and run by Martin. But we got a little unlucky.

I take no blame for that poor guy down the hall. He's trying to do everything he can to get out of the way and get the stool. He just got a little unlucky.

Q. A.J., I know every team is different. Every postseason unfolds differently. When you think about this roster with Verlander and Cole maybe better than ever, with Greinke, with Alvarez and Brantley, how much more dangerous do you think this team is, or just better, than any other version you've had here?
A.J. HINCH: This is the most talented team we've had. This team hasn't won the World Series yet. We need to win the series on Monday, as quickly as possible, get these guys some rest and hopefully close this thing out.

But luckily for me, I don't have to think too much about historical context or how we are in our team. We're really just trying to get to the next series. That's going to take another win. But I love this team. I've said it over and over. And why wouldn't you?

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