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October 25, 2019

AJ Hinch

Washington, D.C. - postgame 3

Houston - 4, Washington - 1

Q. What did you see from your team tonight? You mentioned last night if you can win Game 3 the story starts to change, we can write different things. It seemed a much more aggressive team with the stolen bases. It wasn't just home runs, it was doubles, Altuve kind of got you started and everyone else followed.
AJ HINCH: We just had a nice team win. We did a lot of things well tonight. It was hard. This is a really good team. So you have to earn everything you have against them and take opportunities when they present themselves. And I think our guys came into the game in a great mindset. I said that before that.

And then I think we just went out and played. I thought our at-bats were good. I thought some of our outs were really good I think in terms of the quality at-bat.

And then our pitching was phenomenal. I think Zack being able to get through traffic quite a bit. Josh James coming in, getting a big punch-out of Zimmerman was huge. Will Harris going one plus getting through a tough part of the lineup. And then Osuna closing it out. Joe Smith had a good inning. I mean, everybody had traffic, both sides, where we were all over the base paths on both sides. The at-bats we hadn't won in our favor in Houston, we did a little bit better in those at-bats.

Q. In the fifth inning there after Cabrera's double. Like you said, Greinke had wiggled out of a lot of jams, but what was it about the James-Zimmerman matchup you liked?
AJ HINCH: A couple things. One, I had a little bit of regret that I didn't go get him for Cabrera because of the history they'd had. Zack had made really, really good pitches that inning, including, in my mindset, was the previous at-bat with Cabrera made really good pitches.

Sometimes you have to factor in previous history, sometimes you don't. But when he lost Cabrera, the near miss, that ball staying in the ballpark was big at us. Reddick going and getting that ball was big.

Zimmerman had had pretty good at-bats up to that point. Long at-bat walk. Hung with three, four, five breaking balls, the first at-bat got the base hit. I mean, it's Ryan Zimmerman in this ballpark. I'm well aware it's his ballpark, it feels like.

And that moment felt like power and a new look was going to be what we needed. Josh James came in and did his job.

Q. You guys held Soto in check tonight. Is that indicative of a different approach?
AJ HINCH: We're pretty good, too. We're going to try to adapt to him. And I think our pitchers did a good job of mixing. We didn't stay in one area, we didn't get him out the same way twice, really.

He was very aggressive early, like a lot of their guys were on secondary pitches. As the game went on we had to adapt the game plan based on their aggressiveness on all of our secondary pitches. Seemed like every curveball Zack Greinke threw they were taking a swing at it. And so we started to pound them a little bit later in the game.

So I think it was more of an endgame cat-and-mouse approach on trying to keep him from getting the same look twice.

Q. Considering the stretches in the postseason where you've looked to get a runner on base, how far do you think you could have gotten were it not for Jose Altuve being so consistent this postseason?
AJ HINCH: Like how far tonight? We're in Game 4 of the World Series now, so I think that's pretty far.

We're going to need everybody. Jose has been fantastic this postseason. And today was very much a catalyst for us. He doesn't have to carry it with him too far. So it can be somebody different. Tomorrow might be George, Alex Bregman. We'll go home tonight wanting somebody to intentionally walk in front of him again. He'll carry that with him. Michael Brantley has had better at-bats. I think Chirinos is breaking out tonight with a great swing for a homer.

Jose is the heart and soul of what we do. I think it was his night tonight to be the catalyst, and maybe it's somebody different tomorrow.

Q. Tomorrow's Game 4, will it be a bullpen game, and will Urquidy go first?
AJ HINCH: Every World Series game is a bullpen game, mostly, at some point, it feels like it.

Jose Urquidy will start, and he can go as long as he's good. I don't have necessarily a predetermined plan on how many innings, how many pitches.

Like I said, it's Game 4 of the World Series. All things are being considered. Jose gets the ball.

Q. Could you just talk a little bit about the job that Joe Smith and Will Harris have done throughout the playoffs for you guys. Because they both went over 20 pitches tonight, are they going to be limited tomorrow?
AJ HINCH: No, they'll be available. This is all hands on deck every day. They are tremendous pitchers, they're trustworthy, they throw strikes. They're different looks, which I really think -- we don't talk a ton about in the industry as much as we probably should. Even tonight, as an example, you go from Greinke to Josh James throwing a hundred to then Will Harris came in with the power breaking ball, and then all of a sudden the Sidewinder comes in, and then Osuna comes in back throwing 98 again. That's how we're built.

But you need everybody to be good at what they do best. Will Harris in specific has been sort of my security blanket the entire season counting five years back. This is a guy who hasn't been underappreciated, but probably has not gotten the recognition, except the one year he got to be an All-Star.

Joe Smith coming back from injury, that was a success in its own right. And now he's pitched his way into the seventh and eighth inning leverage roles, where if you match them up correctly, even when you give him the lefties he's creative and he's calm. And I thought his emergence at the end of the season into this postseason giving him a different look has been incredible for us.

Q. Given that you did go more of a straight bullpen game last round, what went into your decision to go Urquidy tomorrow?
AJ HINCH: A couple things. The lineup, it's not just a one-size-fits-all strategy when you're facing different teams. These guys offer something a little different than the previous decisions we've made when you just look at the balance they have at the top of their order. With Turner, to Eaton, to Rendon, to Soto. You take the first four hitters, when you think about starting a game, and if you're going to go bullpen, you better have somebody that's pretty good at a little bit of everything. Those are four distinctly different guys.

As opposed to the Yankee series, they were all right-handed, it was a nice matchup for Brad Peacock.

The other side of it is when you get into the National League game, I can't be quite as quick with the pitching given that you have to always be aware of where the at-bats are coming. There are probably some relievers that hope I do so they get an at-bat in the World Series, but certainly I don't want to see it.

Q. As you were saying, a lot of traffic for Greinke, but on the whole when you came into this game, were you pretty confident that whatever the atmosphere, that he would be able to handle it and possibly wiggle out of some tough -- he did get out of a lot of big outs.
AJ HINCH: He does that on a regular start day in August where he's -- he toys with the strike zone. He never really concedes. He's not afraid to throw secondary pitches. He would rather pitch carefully to you than necessarily throw a ball right down the middle. I saw that throughout.

As far as the atmosphere goes, this guy doesn't scare off. This is not somebody that I have any fear whatsoever is not going to be able to handle the stage or the magnitude. This guy has been really good for a really long time.

I understand the numbers historically or how he's maybe not finished seasons as well as he started them. But he was in great spirits, clear thinking, doing everything that he wanted. He had a little bit of doubt at the end of his outing on what pitch to go to. We talked about that on the mound before he even exited on the Cabrera pitch at the very end of his outing.

Coming into this game it was important for us to get a good start, and we did. He didn't like it after it almost went out of the ballpark.

Q. You mentioned tonight was a catalyst for you guys. Can you just sort of expand on that and how that affects your mindset going into tomorrow?
AJ HINCH: I don't know that it affects our mindset as much as it kind of reestablishes us in this series. When they come into our ballpark and beat Gerrit and Justin, that's a big punch. They threw a big punch at the beginning of this series.

Now, we've got enough experience and enough feel about how series go that we knew we win today, get a little mojo back on our side, get a little bit of momentum, start to swing the bats a little bit better, we're not afraid of playing in any venue. This is a great atmosphere. The fans here were incredible and just alive like you would expect in the World Series. And our players thrive on that, too.

Mindset-wise, I think we're going to be really good at taking it -- that old cliché, one game at a time, we've been good at it. But a win was huge for us tonight to sort of reenergize the fact that this series is clearly not over.

Q. Do you think that both teams have a pretty good feel that this is going to be a long, difficult grinding kind of series?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, I never really thought any other way, and I don't think they would allow themselves to go down the path to think that this is just going to be a series where we would lay down after losing a couple of games.

I think this World Series, these are two really, really talented teams, really good teams, really driven teams. It takes four wins, and no one has got it yet.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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