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October 8, 2019

Kevin Cash

Tampa Bay, Florida - pregame 4

Q. Were you in any way surprised at AJ's going with Justin and what's your thoughts about going against him again?
KEVIN CASH: Not really. Makes a lot of sense. He's the game's best. If he says he's good to pitch, pitch him.

Going against him again, you know, we just got to do a better job of making the most of our opportunity when he does throw a pitch that we can handle.

He threw some, but he threw a lot of quality pitches, but just hope that with us seeing him not too long ago will work in our advantage. Even that alone, there's a reason why he's been so successful for his career. We got our challenges.

Q. Kevin, when you look at the way the Astros pitchers have been able to rack up strikeouts, the way they've done all year long, how much of that do you think is about pure power and how much of that do you think is about other things?
KEVIN CASH: I think a lot's got to do with power. I know that we do a pretty good job of racking up strikeouts ourselves. And you look at the stuff that's being featured, whether it's the guy starting or the guy coming out of the bullpen for both clubs, it's electric stuff.

When you have that type of stuff and you're executing and willing to throw strikes with it, you're going to rack up some strikeouts.

Certainly, they do some things and the pitchability that they have, especially Justin Verlander, where he can probably adjust off his plan and still execute quality pitches to get strikeouts. But at the end of the day, it comes down just to the power.

Q. Follow-up, you said about taking advantage of those mistakes when he does make them. Is that about taking more of a swing-for-the-fences approach when you do get one to hit, or is it just about trying to pull in a play when you have a chance to do so?
KEVIN CASH: I don't know what the guys' approaches are once they actually get in the box.

Look, the other day, he had two, I believe, kind of uncharacteristic walks early in the game. We got some guys on base. You'd like to find a way to kind of keep the line moving. He came up and made some big pitches and got double-play balls out of them.

But we're going to maintain a consistent approach that we've had, which is stay aggressive to what our strengths are. If he gives you a pitch, be ready to hit it.

Q. Couple of guys said after yesterday's game the difference for them was being patient in the box. I know you mentioned those two early walks for Verlander. Can you be patient against a guy like Verlander?
KEVIN CASH: He's probably going to let you know whether you can or not early. If he's got everything going on, he's going to get better as the count gets deeper. I think our guys recognize that.

Most pitchers, they know the most successful ways to attack lineups are to control the count and get ahead. The 0-0 pitch, the 1-1 pitch, those change at-bats. I think we've got to be ready to look for strikes. He's not going to shy away from contact. That's just not what he does.

Q. Kevin, you've got Joey Wendle back in there tonight. He had a little rough start to the season. What do you say about the way he played down the stretch and your thought process in putting him back in there tonight?
KEVIN CASH: He was huge for us down the stretch. You look at the injuries he overcame, pretty broken season, whether it was hamstring, broken wrist. Even when he came back, the wrist was not right.

I think he's done a really good job of managing it over the last six weeks or so. He doesn't take full rounds of batting practice. I actually haven't heard anything about the wrist lately. That soreness has kind of subsided so that's a good thing.

What he does for us is similar to the KK effect, he energizes us, does so much on defense. Covers a ton of ground. He can beat you with his speed when he gets on base. He takes that approach at the plate where, you know, he puts the ball in play a lot.

He can spoil a lot of pitches, and kind of look for him to do that tonight.

Q. Kevin, you've got a confident group, won a lot of baseball games this season. How has it changed from 24 hours ago, the attitude in the clubhouse? Because that was a great win last night to get you back on track.
KEVIN CASH: Look, it's changed because we're excited that we won the ball game. I don't think the confidence ever wavered. Sometimes you've got to recognize what you just went up against. We went up against two of the game's best and they quieted our bats. There were a lot of things we did really well in that game, in those two games. We pitched really well. We limited their offense, which you guys can argue who's got the best offense in all of baseball. I got to think they're at the top.

We did some things well. We certainly needed to win the game. We had to win the game. But the confidence has remained consistent.

Q. Kevin, can you touch on the comfort level the whole bullpen unit has, having had so many bullpen games of pitching in any role at any time in knowing that's certainly a possibility tonight?
KEVIN CASH: Yeah, it's total comfort. I think we all learned a lot in September that we're not going to go with set roles, the obvious things, the lefties we're going to try to match up lefties with them.

I know Nick and Emilio generally trend to the back end of the ball game. For me, that goes out the window now. I mean, and they recognize that. I think both of them will tell you, they want to come in the game when it's on the line. If that's in the second inning, they'll come in. They give us whatever they can.

Q. Kevin, you and your guys played a lot of games this season in this place when there just aren't many people there. I mean, last night's a perfect example, very electric.
I know you're neck-deep in your job and the process and everything. Does it ever go through your mind, Man, if it only could be like that all the time?

KEVIN CASH: You know what? I thought yesterday just appreciate what our fans did, what the Bay area did, the support that they showed. That was pretty special.

We just talked about coming from Houston, which great fans, great area that supports their team. And to see our fans come out and support us in a very similar way was huge.

Certainly, players like to play in front of a lot of fans. Everybody recognizes that. But when it mattered, when it counted, yesterday, they showed up, and hopefully they'll show up again for us today.

Q. When Brandon Lowe had the setback, I forget where the team was, but you said at that point you didn't think he'd be back. What did he do or how much did it impress you he got back? When did you realize it was a real possibility?
KEVIN CASH: I did not think he was going to come back. We knew that he had strained his quad pretty good. At that point, you start counting weeks out, realistically, is he able to get enough rehab, get enough treatment, and strengthen everything back up.

When he got hurt, he was still dealing with the shin. There were a lot of factors that probably gave us or me some doubts. But give him a lot of credit for working hard. He came in, did his treatment. The medical staff was tremendous with him. And he stayed at it.

I think that last, the last -- before we went on our last road trip, he started making reference, like, I really think I'm turning a corner. I heard 70 percent thrown around. 70 percent's probably not going to get it done, but we were encouraged that it was growing from 50 percent to 70 percent. We were watching him run on film every day. I told him he looked like a wounded deer running for about a month.

But now he looks fine.

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