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AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: YANKEES VS ASTROS


October 17, 2019


AJ Hinch


New York, New York - postgame 4

Houston - 8, New York - 3

Q. Can you kind of take us through your thinking the fifth inning when you take out Zack. Are you thinking, I've got to find a way to win this game if it finishes 3-1?
AJ HINCH: Well, I don't know about 3-1. I don't think you ever consider the score being done, especially with these two offenses. I did think Zack stopped making pitches the same way he was making pitches leading into that inning. Then as we know in this ballpark, when the inning starts to grow and build and the momentum starts to swing in their favor, really just a fresh arm with some power behind it and a good breaking ball.

I brought him in against Hicks. He made some really good pitches, too. And those guys have played together. So I think they had some familiarity. But he had a really good at-bat and then two big outs after that.

Press has been one of our guys that we've leaned on so heavily, but that was a really, really nice time of the game for him to come through big and feel back in the mix in a huge leverage spot.

Q. (No microphone.)
AJ HINCH: Just kind of reading the at-bats. Because Pressly is really good. The power breaking ball I thought was going to be really good during that group of hitters. But so a little bit of combination of both. Torres had killed Greinke over the last couple games, too. I was well aware of that.

Q. Just going back to Zack's first inning, the last thing you expect to see out of him is three walks and two four-pitch walks, then he settled down and start rolling. What did you see?
AJ HINCH: You know, the walks -- the early walks in that inning, in the early walk in that inning was very unusual, just because he rarely misses four times in a row. They had very disciplined at-bats. So I think it was a little bit more about them being disciplined. They were going either/or; they were either going to ambush him or they were waiting him out.

That was a huge, huge time in the game where once they get one, I mean, they're one swing away from really making it difficult on us. And that was just the beginning of the stress of the game, and there were other multiple big spots.

But Zack getting out of the first with only one run, having spent a lot of pitches and a lot of stressful pitches and some really good at-bats by the Yankees was pivotal for us to hang in there.

Q. You mentioned Pressly and what he did, but your entire bullpen, Josh James gave up a couple, but guys didn't even give up a hit. Can you discuss what went into their night.
AJ HINCH: James had an incredible recovery inning after that. He gave up the homer to S´┐Żnchez, even him coming in and not throwing strikes in the very beginning of his outing, and S´┐Żnchez hits the homer.

Again, the momentum that builds in this building, and with that offense, they've been looking for a spark over the last couple of games to kind of kick-start them. And S´┐Żnchez's homer could have easily done that if Josh doesn't settle down and get through that inning.

Then Will Harris, standard operation. Will kind of comes in, does his job. Joe Smith was an error away from having a clean inning. Osuna coming in and getting a big out in the eighth inning and then waiting around a little bit, and then I sent him back out to finish the game and be done with it. Did a nice job having a scoreless outing.

Our bullpen was asked -- I was asked a lot about our bullpen coming into this series. The series is not over, but so far this series our bullpen has been huge to complement a really good starting rotation.

Q. Before the game I asked about your faith in Yordan Alvarez, he reaches on the error tonight, Bregman scores. Maybe it's not a big fly but what's it to feel like your faith is rewarded?
AJ HINCH: He's fine. He's going to be fine. He's going to be in the lineup tomorrow, too.

Yordan is a big part of our offense, he's a big presence. I see back-to-back series where really good teams are game planning around him, they're making decisions based on him in the lineup. They seem to always have a lefty up. For these guys they want either Green or Kahnle with the high fastball to be up when he's coming around. I can just see the teams are still very, very aware of him.

And again, he's one swing away from doing some serious damage. So I think his swings will steadily get better as the series continues.

Q. After taking the 3-1 lead, how confident do you feel having Verlander?
AJ HINCH: After the 27th out is when I start to have immense confidence. I had confidence in JV beforehand, that's why I announced that he was going to pitch Game 5. The 3-1 lead had nothing to do with it. I wasn't even really thinking about Justin. I'm not sure where he was.

When the game ends and we go into the next game, I love the fact that we have JV on our side. And he's going to set a tone tomorrow that hopefully leads us to the World Series.

Q. CC obviously left in unfortunate circumstances. TV cameras captured at least Gerrit and George applauding him as he walked off. How tough is it to see a pretty well respected guy possibly end his career like that? And what's it say for him that he got that reception in the middle of a playoff game?
AJ HINCH: You know what, CC, I have history with him. I caught him in Spring Training, and I faced him, one of the last standing guys I faced. I'll officially be old when he and Fernando Rodney retire.

I hate to see that for him, I hate to see that for the sport, and we hope he's okay. Our entire dugout was on the top step paying our respects to him trying to gut it out.

I don't know what was wrong with him. I know he's been banged up. You can see the impact he's had on numerous players on our team and me and everybody else that we have so much respect for him that in the middle of a heavyweight bout of playoff baseball we all can keep our senses about us and pay our respects to what his effort was.

Q. The Yankees bullpen is never pleasant to face, but as you've seen some of the same guys game after game, do you sort of get the sense that your hitters are starting to feel and appear a little more comfortable against them?
AJ HINCH: I don't know about comfortable. I just think our guys are pretty good, and we have a pretty good game plan. As with all guys, it comes down to execution. If they miss their spots, whether it's a starter, reliever, it just comes down to the pitcher-batter confrontation. And these guys, we've got really good players that can win some of those, and they're still bringing some serious guys out of the pen.

"Comfortable" is a bad word to use because these guys are really good. Seven-game series are always going to increase familiarity as the series goes. But so are they. I'm bringing Joe Smith every game, Will Harris has pitched every game, Osuna has pitched. They're getting their clean looks at our guys, too.

Q. You still haven't had a player or two go four for five and just light it up, but you're getting enough that you need across the board, I don't know if you know last week Bregman said you've got a lot of Mr. Octobers on this team, so it's Team October. Is that kind of something that balances you guys?
AJ HINCH: I don't think we really look at who's doing what. I just think you try to win the at-bat that you're in. We had two really big swings that left the yard with Carlos and George. But there's a lot of good at-bats that led them to being three-run homers. Three-run homers aren't by accident. We had to draw a walk here, Reddick had the single before George's homer.

We did a lot of things right and we have a team offense. We have a lot of big names. We have a lot of guys that have some star appeal. We do have guys any given day that can bust out and have that big monster night. Our team is at our best when everybody is doing something, and we put a lot of pressure on the opponent every day.

Q. What do you think about Tanaka tonight compared to the first game?
AJ HINCH: So Tanaka was good. I thought -- he changed his game plan a little bit, he threw a few more fastballs. He's always in complete control of himself and of his pitches. Today we had a little bit more disciplined approach. We made him stay on the plate and then we hit a mistake or two and put pressure on him.

I was surprised by the lead-off walk to Chirinos. That's very uncharacteristic of Tanaka, and we made him pay for it. All in all, he's a difficult at-bat because he can execute his game plan nearly flawlessly. But the fact that he made a mistake or two and we capitalized was a big difference in the game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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