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October 22, 2019

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - postgame 1

Washington - 5, Houston - 4

Q. What did you think of Gerrit overall tonight?
AJ HINCH: You know, there was a lot of good with Gerrit. I think he came into the game very well and then lost a couple of key two-strike battles. The Zimmerman pitch was a mistake, and Zimmerman made him pay with a homer. He never really controlled Soto the whole night. He punched him the first at-bat and the after that Soto took some really good swings, twice against Gerrit and once again Will.

And then the fifth inning lead-off walk to lose the two-strike battle with Robles when he's trying to bunt, gets Turner. And then Eaton hits a slider on the black, fights it off for a hit, and then Rendon hits the nondouble play, and then Soto wins probably the biggest at-bat of the game.

All in all, we knew it was going to be tough. These guys are really tough to put away. They don't strike out a lot. And they proved tonight they're putting the ball in play and a couple of two-strike at-bats, finding some holes, hitting a few balls hard, couple of balls out of the ballpark. That's how they beat him.

Q. We know how good Bregman is. What do you think about the at-bats?
AJ HINCH: I'm not going to talk about games we've already won.

Tonight's at-bats, these are tough games. Max Scherzer is really good. He punches out an enormous amount of guys, and he's pitched Breg pretty tough and then a tough at-bat at the end.

Obviously they're pitching tough to him. He's kind of looking for the perfect pitch. You get to two strikes against elite pitching it can be even more difficult, and they put him away tonight.

Q. On Springer's double it looked like he took several hops out of the box. Could he have been on third in that situation and possibly scored?
AJ HINCH: I'll have to take a look at it. I didn't see that. There was a lot going on in that play. Let me take a look at the video, I'll talk to you about it tomorrow. I'm not sure.

Q. Just on Springer's postseason performance. Another home run, it's another club record, five home runs in a row in the World Series is also a World Series record.
AJ HINCH: I told them in the dugout we need to play in the World Series more often because he hits homers every single time it feels like. He's off to a really good start. His first game in the last World Series maybe not so much but he's picking up right where he left off.

Q. How good was it to see Yordan break out of his slump?
AJ HINCH: Yordan had some good at-bats. He lost a big at-bat with a big swing, but I think the walk early showed better discipline, couple of bullets, he almost hit one off of Scherzer, literally.

And as I said, patience is really important when you're watching these guys. And those swings tonight can really pay dividends the next few games.

Q. You guys got the bat on the ball tonight a lot but you stranded a lot of people. That has to be frustrating.
AJ HINCH: Anytime you're up against a really good starting pitcher, you want to take advantage of every single opportunity. You know it's going to be a tall task.

But I liked the at-bats. I even liked our at-bats with runners in scoring position. We had a little bit of bad luck. We did chase a little bit, as you're going to. Keep preaching, Give yourself as many opportunities as you can. The big hit eluded us a couple of times; a couple times it didn't. Yuli Gurriel a big two-out hit, George Springer a big hit to right center field.

We're not going to be perfect. When you look back in a close game like this, there's probably an opportunity or two that you'd like back, but there's also a little bit of keep pushing with these guys to give yourself as many -- I thought Jose had a really good at-bat against Scherzer in the middle part of the game, got nothing to show for it, cued the ball to first base.

We are a results-oriented game, but I like the opportunities we're creating for ourselves and making them use a lot of pitching tonight. Maybe that's a good sign for the remainder of the series.

Q. Seemed like even after the Gurriel double, seemed like a grind for Scherzer. What did you like about your plate discipline, your approach as a whole?
AJ HINCH: Any time you come into a game with Max the threat of the long game or he gets deep into the games, you know he's going to go until they have to tear the ball out of his hands.

I thought our at-bats early were very, very disciplined. We made him work extremely hard. You look up and he's in the 60-pitch count after three innings. We pushed him into the 110, 111 range after five. He did win some big at-bats, and there's no sort of moral victory in that. We left ourselves a lot of outs and made them have to navigate the game. Put a ton of pressure on both Max and their bullpen.

But at the end of the day, you have to win the game. We tried. We had good effort. We had good at-bats. But they came out ahead.

Q. What can you say about Juan Soto and his performance today, just 20 years old?
AJ HINCH: We haven't seen him a ton in person. A little bit of Spring Training, which doesn't count. But he was clearly the key guy that we couldn't control tonight. His bat speed is electric. His energy and his body is as advertised. He's calm in the moment. Clearly this is not too big a stage for him. I think he's taking big swings early on, bounced back from the punch-out, had three really good at-bats, big hits.

He was the difference in the game.

Q. Can you articulate what makes Soto so difficult to pitch against especially given how young he is?
AJ HINCH: At this point age is sort of a number. He's had so many at-bats at the Major League level. I don't even look at him as young until you see his face. He's got kind of the "it" factor. He's got the twitch. He's got fast hands. He's got no fear. I think that's big for a young hitter. Early in his career to just kind of leave it out there. It looks like he's completely in control of enjoying the moment. And he hit all sorts of different pitches.

The first homer he hit was a pretty good -- Gerrit Cole throwing a high fastball up and away, that's not easy to do, and then to come back from that and get to a full count. Gets in the big count against Cole, doesn't get overly too amped up and then takes a ball off the Crawford box or the wall, at least.

He's mature. Don't let the age fool you.

Q. You hadn't lost a game that Gerrit Cole had pitched in over three months. He hadn't lost a game in five months. Did you always have the feeling that sooner or later a night like this was coming? And does a night like this put that streak in some kind of perspective?
AJ HINCH: I think he's been so good for so long that there builds this thought of invincibility and that it's impossible to beat him. So when it happens it is a surprise to all of us because we've watched for months this guy completely dominate the opposition.

Which is why I want to give credit to the Nats. They came in and put really good at-bats up. Especially coming into the game where he punches out a couple guys, you get some momentum and energy in this building, he feeds off that, they were disciplined. The Suzuki walk kind of opened up everything. That's not something that he normally does. And he usually wins the two-strike battles, as seen by the back of his baseball card, it's going to have a lot of strikeouts on it.

It puts it all in perspective. It's not easy to do what these guys do and the streaks they put together of dominance. We do tip our cap to it. And now our job is to win a few games to get him the ball in Game 5.

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