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October 15, 2019

AJ Hinch

New York, New York - postgame 3

Houston - 4, New York - 1

Q. How would you describe what Cole was able to do tonight at Yankee Stadium in a swing game, to constantly be in trouble, load the bases in the first inning, and constantly get out of everything?
AJ HINCH: It's a lot of what I've seen this entire year. He's exceptional. And he gets better and better and better.

I actually think the beginning of the game he had a hard time finding his stuff and finding his tempo, his rhythm. He was still getting through his outing, made some really big pitches, had some pressure on him. Then once he found his curveball it was pretty lights out. I think he finished his outing as strong as ever.

And he was able to manage his game at the beginning of the game and avoid the bad pitch. He had a couple of walks that -- they're not all bad walks. He kind of knows what he's doing out there and how to navigate around certain things.

But a big night and clearly our team really does respond when we know he's pitching.

Q. You had a great view from the third base dugout of Didi's at-bat. Were you concerned, did you think it was going to go?
AJ HINCH: Yeah. Off the bat -- first off, I think every fly ball in 2019 is a homer. In season, regular season, postseason, I don't care. It's kind of been conditioned that way.

But the ball off the bat, I immediately watched the hitter. The hitter tells you the most. And he didn't respond right away with sort of the pure excitement. He kind of watched it for a minute and then I looked up and saw Reddick getting back, settling underneath it, I watched Didi again, then I felt a little bit better.

But to answer your question, yes.

Q. I know at this point you're hoping this doesn't go to a Game 7, but how reassuring is it to have Gerrit Cole ready to go in that Game 7?
AJ HINCH: It goes without saying that anytime you can target another day for him to pitch it feels pretty good. I think there's a lot of baseball left to play before that factors in.

But he's -- I think he's the best pitcher in baseball right now. His competition is right next to him in the clubhouse. They're certainly a good pair. I watch what Strasburg is doing, I see what Scherzer is doing, deGrom in the city. There's a lot of big names. But obviously I'm biased to my games.

But Gerrit is locked in. And to see him do it on the big stage in a playoff game with the magnitude of this game, it was pretty awesome.

Q. You also had another great view of George Springer and his play when he was trapped on the base path. What can you say about how smart of a play that was just to move the runners ahead?
AJ HINCH: We had a chance, it was the pitching change gave us a chance to talk about it at third base, Gary and George and I. I went out, I thought they were going to play the infield about halfway, which is what they did. Britton can generate some soft contact so you have a chance to score on that.

So we're going there until the ball stops you. When it stops you, you have to give yourself enough time. And fortunately for us two of our better baserunners, and specifically Altuve, one of our fastest baserunners at first base can get to third. Brantley did a great job of following it so we end the play with second and third, which puts pressure on their dugout as to what you're going to do with Bregman.

George executed it flawlessly, being able to stay at kind of that 45-foot mark and not run into an out was huge. The batter-runner Brantley getting to second, made him intentionally walk Bregman, and set up our inning. And it was a good play all the way around.

Q. Prior to the series a lot of talk about bullpens. Can you talk about how your bullpen has performed and how your offense has performed against their bullpen?
AJ HINCH: We've come up with some timely hits off their bullpen. We put pressure on a lot of their pitchers. They were really good. Their bullpen was really good in that extra-inning game for a really long time. We got to Happ at the end.

But both bullpens are under the microscope right now, especially nowadays in this series, and they're going to be close games and big swings. I know Joe Smith had a really good night the other night, gets a big out on Encarnacion and then Torres hits a homer. I think Will Harris has come in and been great.

I think defense on both sides, you're seeing the positioning advantages when guys hit into these positions. And pitching defense and timely hitting, right now we've done a little bit better getting up 2-1. But both bullpens -- these guys are going to see a lot of their bullpens.

Q. You guys are 9 and 1 when Altuve hits a homer in the playoffs. What does it mean for your club to get him going, especially --
AJ HINCH: You know, he's such a great player and a spark plug for all of us. And one of the things that we always say is, it doesn't have to be him or it doesn't have to be George, it doesn't have to be Bregman, anybody. We've got a lineup full of guys that can carry us any given day. There's something about the top of that order, including George and Josey and Brantley swinging the bat a little better this last game.

When they get going our offense really does start to take off. Today specifically, you come into this stadium, you have to try to take the lead. And the homer kind of kick-started everything. Reddick gets a big homer.

Part of the heart and soul of what we do is Jose. He's been here the longest of anybody on this team. He's an energy provider. He's a spark anytime he's on the field. I've said this before, but he's everything right about the Houston Astros is Jose Altuve.

Q. Between your three starters so far in this series, if my math is right, you pitched 19 and two-thirds innings from Cole, Verlander, and Greinke. How much of a comfort is it knowing that you maybe don't have to piece together a bullpen game and having those three guys at the top of the rotation?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, that's old school, right. We like when the starter gets to pitch a little bit. We have some of the best. I always believe that the starting pitcher sets the tone of the day. And our guys really do a good job of taking that to heart. They take their starts as serious as any guys that I've been around; their preparation, their entry into the game, their first innings. They really do a good job of setting the tone for our team.

Our team knows exactly who is on the mound and what the opportunity is for us, that we're going to be in these games.

Never take it for granted because it can change. These are both really good teams and you can't get flippant about the fact that our starters are able to get us pretty far deep into the game where I can match up our guys hopefully appropriately against their lineup to get as many outs as fast as possible.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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