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October 8, 2021

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 2 Press Conference

Houston - 9, Chicago -4

Q. Dusty, you went and got Framber there after the two hard contact signals. You had Pressly going for the eighth and Graveman going for the ninth. How did you kind of depart maybe from some preconceived roles, and how has managing a pitching staff changed since you started managing?

DUSTY BAKER: You have to stop whatever potential rallies are coming. This is a game of momentum, and usually hits come in bunches. Framber had been in trouble a couple of times and got out of it.

One of my teammates long ago, Tommy John, told me a pitcher can get out of trouble three times maybe, but a good pitcher, you've got to get him after he's in trouble a couple times. He was in trouble again, even though he can get out of that trouble with that sinker. He threw up a couple double plays, but they were starting to hit him pretty good.

And as far as Pressly, Pressly was already loose to come in in a one-run ball game at the time. If you get the other guy Graveman up in a hurry, his heart's pumping, and then you got to get Pressly back up again in the ninth after he was cold. And the hitters they had coming up were fastball hitters. Pressly has an outstanding slider.

So it was a situation where we know when we've got Graveman, that those two guys could be interchangeable between setup and close. Plus Pressly had been a setup man before. So he's very familiar with that situation.

Q. Dusty, just going back to that seventh inning before you guys got those five -- so the top half of the inning. You've got two runners on base, and you get that line out to Kyle Tucker to make that catch. How big of a play was that in the game, Kyle making that catch?

DUSTY BAKER: There were four or five great plays out there on defense. Like I always said, you can lose on defense, but you can't win with defense, but you can lose on defense. That was an outstanding play by Kyle because he took a great route to the ball. He timed it perfectly, and they might have been off to the races had he not made that catch.

You look at the plays that Carlos made, the play that Altuve made, that was an outstanding play, especially Altuve is leading off an inning, and you'd love to lead off an inning with one out versus no outs and a guy on base.

So we played an exciting two games so far. The fans are -- I hope they are more than satisfied, got their money's worth, and will come back over and over again. We probably made a lot of fans during this series.

Q. Dusty, to jump off that point, the defense today was great. How much has that helped you guys get to where you are all year long?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, every great team I've been on, we played outstanding defense. Every team that I've been on, from the time I was with the Giants, I had four or five gold glovers there, and I had some more in Cincinnati and some more in Chicago. Defense is something that we work on before we even hit.

These guys take pride in defense, so that's something that I think is overlooked by a lot of clubs, but never on my club.

Q. Dusty, in the bottom of the seventh inning, can you talk about what your team was able to do just getting hit after hit there to break it open?

DUSTY BAKER: That's our team. Our team, like when Reddick was here, he used to say all the time, it happens fast, and it does. Most rallies happen at a certain period of time, or I refer to basketball, you can go use the bathroom and come back, have a ten-point lead, and next thing you know they steal an inbound pass and three-point shot, and next thing you know, you're up five or six. It does happen fast.

I mean, this is a big inning team. Sometimes people wonder why we don't bond or why we don't squeeze or whatever it is, which I believe in also, but you're keeping the other team in the game by keeping the other team close. We've got a big inning team. It doesn't always work, but when it works, it works great.

Q. Even though you had a lot of traffic and some blocks, you erased two leads. Did you still feel like the big hit was coming? There was going to be a Correa hit or the homer to kind of blow it over for you guys? It was kind of bubbling up for you.

DUSTY BAKER: The same guys seem to get the hits. Correa's been getting hits here long before I got here. I was watching him on TV. This is his time of the year. You don't plan on it, and you can't count on getting those runs off of Kimbrel like that, you know what I mean? So you take them when you can.

Boy, that was some inning when we scored those five runs.

Q. Dusty, how much do you think experience plays in a situation like that? If you don't come back, you're going to Chicago 1-1. It's just like this team has proven for years they can get in those situations, and they know, they believe they're going to win that game.

DUSTY BAKER: They've been here before. If you've experienced it, then belief is a big part of this game, and belief will take you a long, long ways. These guys as a unit, they believe.

We knew that Chicago came in here. We would have been satisfied with a split. Now we've got work to do. I've been on both sides, coming back, and I've seen them come back. So we have to act like we're going in there 0-0 because we're going into very hostile territory. They beat us in Chicago 2 out of 3. So we've got work to do. These guys aren't going to rest on their laurels because we haven't accomplished anything yet.

Q. Back to defense, Dusty. We know the Astros have the reputation of being really good at it, but if you could give some perspective for those of us who don't get to watch your team every day. Was this uncommonly good? Was this surprisingly good to you?

DUSTY BAKER: Not really. Nothing surprises me. I'm more surprised when we don't make the plays.

I'm more surprised when we make errors. Like I said, everybody can be better defensively if they want to put in the time and the effort and the work to do it because hitting's fun.

You go to a little league practice or something, and everybody wants to hit. As soon as they get through hitting, everybody's ready to go home. Defense is something that you have to take probably more pride in defense than you do on offense because it's not fun. The fun part's hitting. If you put in the work, you can get better.

Also, I've got to add, don't take your offense on the field with you. When you struck out, bases loaded, and make an error by not being sharp thinking about your offense, it's tough to do, but you have to do.

Q. Dusty, how much fun are you having this postseason? There was a point in the game where Correa was running down the base path and he was out, but you were there, you were very emotional because you want him to beat it out. Just how much fun are you having?

DUSTY BAKER: This is an accumulation of months of work to get to this point. Yeah, this is one reason why I came back. I missed this. I yearn for this. As a player, I loved it. As a manager, I love it probably not as much as when I was a player because I could have a direct impact on the game, where now I'm dependent on them to perform. So, yeah, this is fun.

I told my wife, I said, I hope that after every one of these games that I'm emotionally tired from thinking and exerting energy. This is like -- I don't know, I feel 15 during these games. I know I'm not 15, but I feel 15 (laughter).

Q. Dusty, you guys had a couple walks today that came around and scored. What impressed you the most about how your team was able to battle at the plate? Were there any at-bats in particular that stood out to you?

DUSTY BAKER: That's what hitting is all about. It's a battle. It's a battle. This team grinds out at-bats. Giolito started out the last time we faced him in Chicago. I think he had a no-hitter until the sixth or seventh.

You've got to grind them out and just probably -- the at-bat that stood out the most to me? Heck, I don't know. There's a number of them.

Q. You can name more than one.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, Carlos' at-bat, Altuve, Álvarez had a heck of an at-bat.

Q. Yuli too?

DUSTY BAKER: That was huge. Especially because I think that was Yuli's first hit of the series. That guy was throwing some gas on Yuli. When he fouled off that slider down and in and just got a piece of it, then had new life.

Okay. I got to go to Chicago.

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