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October 8, 2021

Mike Zunino

Collin McHugh

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Tropicana Field

Tampa Bay Rays

Postgame 2 Press Conference

Red Sox 14, Rays 6

Q. Collin, I know you had obviously a very successful year throughout the season and maybe ask you to speak for the relievers as well, but was it a tough night for execution tonight? Were the Red Sox just having a good night? Were they doing anything differently? The bullpen hasn't had many nights where the game has gotten away from you this year.

COLLIN McHUGH: Yeah, they took advantage of mistakes. I was talking to Z on the way over here and in between innings, just make a mistake in the playoffs, and a lot of them you get away with, and we didn't get away with a lot of them today, and that's hats off to them. They put good swings on the ball, but we have to have to execute better as a staff. I have to execute better personally, and I feel confident in our ability to do so.

Q. Z, I wanted to ask what you saw from Shane Baz, the four-pitch walk to start, maybe uncharacteristic from what we've seen from him this year.

MIKE ZUNINO: That's the biggest thing, working ahead of guys. I'm sure if he could have that at-bat back to sort of change the outcome of that and the momentum of that first inning, I'm sure he could. I thought we did a good job answering back there in the bottom of the first, and he settled in, but it's a really good offense over there.

Like Collin said, they're going to take advantage of mistakes, and we didn't pitch the best of our abilities, and you chalk it up as a bad game, but we're looking forward to get out there on Game 3, rest up tomorrow, and get going.

Q. There's a flip side of that. How stuff was Tanner Houck? It seemed like he settled the game down for the Red Sox.

MIKE ZUNINO: It's a big situation for a lot of these guys. A lot of guys have never experienced it. You know, coming here and playing in front of 25,000, 30,000, you know, there's going to be adrenaline and stuff that we need to be able to stay within ourselves, and I thought he did a good job handling that.

And, you know, like I said, just wasn't our night. I'm sure guys wanted to do a little bit better, but, I mean, that's part of this game. That's why we play the five-game series.

Q. Mike, you guys worked very hard all year to be the best team in the AL East, which is what you accomplished and why the series started here. How do you avoid a degree of frustration of losing the quote, unquote, home field advantage now?

MIKE ZUNINO: Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest thing is, you know, go out there and you say that we played very good baseball all year, and we trust that we can play very good baseball all year. It won't be our first time going and playing at Fenway. It's a great ballpark. You know they're going to have a packed stadium with great fans, and, you know, we're embracing that challenge and that adversity, but I think we go out there and regroup and go out and play our style of game, we'll be fine.

Q. Mike, obviously everyone knows how good of a hitter J.D. Martinez is and today he was able to come back to the Red Sox lineup, so as an opponent, how much does it change when a hitter like him is back in the lineup and the way you are game-planning against him?

MIKE ZUNINO: He is definitely a huge piece of that lineup, and I think he showed why today. He came in. I know coming off an injury, and battling with that isn't easy, but he had great at-bats all day today, and you tip your cap. It's one of those days where he swung the bat extremely well, and we have to make some adjustments there.

But he is an upper-level talent in this league, and he solidifies any lineup. So we have to do a better job of attacking him, but sometimes we're on the other side of that outcome.

Q. Mike, what was the energy like in the dugout in the first inning after Luplow hit the grand slam, and how much in that moment did it feel like that was the big momentum shift back in your guys' favor?

MIKE ZUNINO: Yeah, it was huge. Obviously, off a pitcher of Sale's caliber, and Luplow and all the guys in front of him coming up with great at-bats.

But it's one of those things in the playoffs you can't let your foot off the gas. They did a good job of staying in the ballgame and grinding out at-bats, and ultimately came out on top, and that's lesson learned from us that even that swing of momentum is big, but we can't take anything for granted.

MODERATOR: All right, guys. See you in Boston. Thanks so much for coming in. Appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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