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October 13, 2019

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - postgame 2

Houston - 3, New York - 2 (11)

Q. Congratulations about the win. Even though today you were successful about defeating the New York Yankees, are you concerned about the lack of offense? What do you think you need to do in order to correct it?
AJ HINCH: That's not a lack of offense. There were some incredible at-bats today. I think seven or eight line-drive outs, big home run by Springer, big home run by Correa. These are two of the best teams in Major League Baseball.

I don't see a lack of offense; I see two incredible teams going at it with strengths on both sides. What a big win.

Q. You've been through games like this before, ALCS against the Yankees two years ago. What does it say about some of these guys, Correa on down, that they can find a way to win these games when everything is so tense and tight?
AJ HINCH: I don't know what it says. You guys can come up with -- I know I'm supposed to come up with a quote. But we just have really good players and really good feel for the moment. It's fun when you win a game like this. We've had some really big wins in this ballpark. That's why we talk about how we love playing here.

But specifically tonight, this was all about tonight. This team obviously -- we heard the talk in the last 24 hours, we got punched in the face yesterday, the Yankees came in. And then they take the lead, Judge hits a ball to Torchy's at center field. And all that comes with playoff baseball.

I mean, this was an incredible game of coming back. Our bullpen stepped up, did an incredible job, JV set a great tone. We had big swings. We had a ton of opportunities. We lined out a lot that even in those opportunities.

So just really proud of how our guys stayed in the moment.

Q. Just wonder if you could talk about Carlos's big night. He's been there defensively for you all postseason, had some struggles at the plate, but made the big play on defense tonight and then comes up with the game winner.
AJ HINCH: Big swings. He had a big double early, he hit the ball to the warning track in center. I thought he had a chance of getting that one out of the ballpark. Huge awareness play at shortstop. Throws a bullet to Chirinos to get the out when LeMahieu came around third. And then the walk-off is incredible.

We've always said he's a big part of our offense, big part of our defense, big part of our team. He's usually hitting 3rd, 4th or 5th, but on this team we've pushed him down a little bit, coming back from injury.

You can see why the impact that we love so much about him. And you look at his RBI totals in the postseason, you look at his walk-offs, you look at the big moments. He's a pretty special man.

Q. Just to expand on him a little bit in that first game of the last series he said he was struggling to see the ball a little bit, trying to get back into a rhythm. What kind of conversations have you had with him to kind of just keep him going?
AJ HINCH: Just encouragement. This means so much to players on both sides. I can only speak for our team, but it means so much. So you just don't want them to put any undue -- there's enough pressure as there is, there's enough eyes on them. There's enough questions being asked and response to success, response to failure.

So just continued encouragement. We've got these guys' back when they don't play well; when they do play well, we celebrate. We do it together as a group. Those guys in there, what an emotional win.

Carlos being right in the middle of it having had the roller coaster year health-wise is big for him moving forward.

Q. Keeping in mind that you have any number of things you could choose from, are there any particular moments tonight that you thought were things that you'll remember as you go forward?
AJ HINCH: I don't have my sheet with me, I remember it way better when I have my sheet with me. But I think Josh James' strikeout at the end was huge, came in with some power. I think Joe Smith coming in. All these guys that go one plus. We get asked a lot about how the length of our bullpen and how they're going to handle different things. I put Joe Smith in a tough spot facing two lefties, he generally faces righties. He gets Hicks to ground out, he gets Gregorius out, and then goes back out against the heart of their order, guys that hurt us last night and hurt us tonight, and did his job.

The walk is not ideal, but just one after another guy coming in and doing their part. I don't know how many scoreless in a row we had but it was a lot.

Q. What's it like going through a heavyweight fight like this? How does this speak to the trust you have in your players, which seems to be unwavering?
AJ HINCH: It's hard to say what it's like to go through it, we're in the 2nd round of what could be a seven-round fight. Obviously we know what's at stake. The emotions are real out there. The intensity, our fans were incredible these two games. We're going into a crazy environment at Yankee Stadium tied 1-1.

I'll let you know at the end of the series how it feels.

Q. They matched up bullpen against your righties and lefties all night. When you finally get to the end of the line there with Happ, take us through that, with two right-handers to see a left-hander at the end of the game?
AJ HINCH: They're carrying the extra pitcher, so you know they have the opportunity to do just about anything they want. I'm sure they watched closely what Tampa did in the first series, and that was a little bit similar to how they did it and their guys came in and there was one guy after another.

So when Happ comes in -- once they start to go to their pen you know there's -- if you can kind of put some pressure on them and you get some matchups in your favor they're going to continue to make those moves. I think George Springer's swing off of Ottavino kind of got energy back in our dugout. And then once they went to someone different and Kahnle throwing incredible stuff.

As you start to get towards the end of, we're both counting the number of pitchers we have left and how we're going to maximize those guys. But when Happ comes in, we know we're going to have some favorable platoon matchups. That doesn't always make it right. We had a chance with Yuli up to bat and the ball hung in the air and we couldn't get it done.

I manage my team, he manages his team. And you try not to run out of players, try not to run out of pitching, but most importantly you just try to win the game.

Q. What did you think about the managerial chess match between you and Aaron? A lot of pitchers used.
AJ HINCH: It was great. This was an epic game in the playoffs with everything on the line. So obviously this has only just begun. I'm not drawing any conclusions on anything for him or for me. We're doing the best to try to put our players in the best position possible.

We had the right guy up at the right time a couple of different times tonight. Some of that is out of sheer luck. I didn't put George in lead-off spot, there's not a lot of thought going into that when you're talking about when Ottavino is at-bat. Fun game to win.

Q. You kind of alluded to the number of line outs that you had. The number of hard hit balls that you had in both games here that were caught, what was the sort of feeling in the dugout when Carlos --
AJ HINCH: You know, when you're at this point in the season, I'll reiterate again to anybody that wants to listen, you don't have a lot of time for frustration. It means the world to these guys. They want to do well. We want to win. We want to get to the World Series.

But the mood and the vibe in there is exactly how it is when we're putting up ten runs. We're just going to keep getting to the next at-bat, keep letting the next hitter do his job, the pitching comes in. It's all about winning today's game. And our guys are responding perfectly to the difficulty in beating those guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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