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October 8, 2021

Tanner Houck

Kike Hernandez

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Tropicana Field

Boston Red Sox

Postgame 2 Press Conference

Red Sox 14, Rays 6

Q. Tanner, in what way was tonight's game really an example of how your repertoire has developed and evolved over the course of this year?

TANNER HOUCK: Yeah, I think tonight was a great example of the repertoire that I've been working on really since I got drafted. I immediately when I first got drafted, I had the four-seam fastball, I added the split a little bit more recently. I've gone through a few grip changes as well with the slider.

But, yeah, it truly is just a surreal night of being able to actually put things fully together and continue to pitch well and just really helping this team in every facet I can.

Q. Tanner, I guess over the last three outings right now, I mean, how locked in do you feel right now? When was the last time you felt this locked in kind of batter to batter with all your pitches?

TANNER HOUCK: Yeah. I felt really locked in the past few outings with everything, and it comes down to just continuing to show up every day and working with Bushy, working with Walk (Walker), talking with other guys on the team as well and just learning every day.

This game is constantly evolving. I'm constantly evolving. Everyone is. It's a matter of just showing up, and sometimes you just got to shut your mouth and open the ears and just listen to guys that have been there and done that, and that's one thing that I think is the best part about this team is we have an endless amount of guys with multiple years of service time that I can lean on and continue to ask questions.

MODERATOR: Kike Hernandez as well.

Q. Tanner, with Chris Sale starting, I'm sure you were not expecting to be on the mound in the second inning. What's the mental process like in terms of getting ready and knowing that you're probably going to be asked to go some length in that one?

TANNER HOUCK: It's about showing up every day and not taking a day off. It's easy, I guess, as a reliever to go out there and just say, all right, Chris has it. He has it for six innings, kind of mentally shut it off, but being locked in to every pitch, every AB that's going on, and just supporting your teammates whether they're hitting, playing the field, pitching. It's just a matter of continuing to stay locked into the game and not just kind of doze off, I guess.

Q. Hey, Tanner, you looked calm. Were you?

TANNER HOUCK: I definitely had a little butterflies at first, but once I got out there threw my warmup pitches, I felt like I was pretty comfortable. I live for those moments where you're in a different stadium, people yelling at you, all that stuff. I love that environment, and I love going out there and competing with my brothers.

Q. Tanner, how did your debut in the Wild-Card Game help you today in terms of the nerves?

TANNER HOUCK: I mean, I would definitely say my nerves were a little bit more today than my debut and during the Wild-Card Game. I remember growing up as a kid and just dreaming about pitching in games like these and just pitching in moments like that. So having that moment become real, it was definitely a real moment where I was, like, all right, let me take a step back, let me soak this in, but then let's get to work.

Q. Kike, if you can please answer in English and Spanish afterwards, please. Before this season started we asked you about being a postseason performer and what you have been able to do. When Alex Cora was here, he said that you made your adjustments from what you did yesterday. How did you do that and what did you do?

KIKE HERNANDEZ: Going through video, watching what I did last night and then going back when I was doing well and seeing what was different and, you know, showing up today and the determination that we're either fixing ti or we're fixing it. And we talked to the hitting coaches and we came up with a plan of work in the cage and translated it to BP, and I felt a little bit better, and I had an okay game.

What was the question again so I can answer in Spanish?

Q. (Question in Spanish).

KIKE HERNANDEZ: (Answer in Spanish).

Q. Tanner, obviously, you weren't thrilled to come out of the perfect game the other day, but does it make more sense today because of how long you were able to go in it is game?

TANNER HOUCK: I mean, I've always trusted A.C. with his game plan and his vision. He is always it seems ten steps ahead of everyone. So it definitely is like truly just you got to trust him and know that he has the best interest for you and the team.

So I was more than willing to come out of that perfect game and just be ready for a bigger moment, and I'm truly blessed to have him trust me enough to put me in those moments.

Q. Did you realize that you had 26 in a row at one point?

TANNER HOUCK: I had no idea, to be honest. I was more just focused in on getting outs and just putting the team in the best place to win.

Q. Tanner, you talked earlier in the season about what Chris had meant to you from a mentorship standpoint. Did you have any -- first of all, were you happy to kind of give him a lift tonight, and did you guys have any conversation afterward?

TANNER HOUCK: I haven't gotten a chance to speak to Chris yet, but going back to speaking on him as a mentor and just everyone else on the team being just such leaders that they are, it just speaks volumes for me to walk in and just be accepted from the guys that have an ungodly amount of talent and just are truly blessed with all the ability, to have them accept me and just take me under their wing and teach me is truly -- like I'm just thankful. I think it really has helped me progress in my career beyond where I even thought I would be at this point.

Q. Tanner, you pitching that important game against New York earlier this week and now this opportunity against the Rays. How much these experiences are going to help you to grow as a pitcher in your career?

TANNER HOUCK: I mean, the way that I believe you grow in this game is by living in those experiences and just talking to guys that have done it before. If I was a position player, I would be asking Kike every question under the sun whether about hitting, fielding, whatever it is, and I think that I've done pretty well in terms of asking guys that have done it before, such as, like, Ottavino, Sale, Eovaldi. Just guys that have been there and experienced all these amazing things that Kike would be able to speak even more on it than I would.

But to have those experiences is truly unmatched about your growth as an individual.

Q. Also, you have Kike on your left. What can you say about what he was able to do tonight?

TANNER HOUCK: Sorry? What?

Q. What can you say about what Kike was able to do tonight?

TANNER HOUCK: There's not much to say. He left it out on the field today. I mean, what do you want me to say? You went, what, 5-for-6?

KIKE HERNANDEZ: He asked you, not me (laughter).

TANNER HOUCK: You can't have much of a better night than that. Big home run, absolutely lacing balls in the gap for doubles. I thought he was going to get that last one, that double as well. I was screaming at the TV for him to go.

KIKE HERNANDEZ: I didn't know where the ball was. I hit it, but I had no idea where it went.

TANNER HOUCK: Truly an unbelievable performance and stepped up in one of the biggest stages of the season so far.

Q. Kike, when you guys are down there 5-2 in the first inning, what's the mood like in the dugout? You know, you had so many come-from-behind wins this year? And you have talked a lot about, too, just Cora's confidence in you guys and just what he kind of brings to the equation for you guys. What's that all like?

KIKE HERNANDEZ: It was pretty upbeat to be honest with you. I think we led baseball in comeback wins this year, and, I mean, we did it all through the season, and why not do it now? We're here. It wasn't win or go home, but for us that was kind of the mentality because going down the series 2-0 against that team is a very uphill -- uphill battle.

And for us it was kind of win or go home, and going up 2-0 the top of the first with Chris on the mound is -- them scoring five is not what you had envisioned, but team sports are all about picking each other up, and that's what we did as an offense, and what this guy did was unbelievable. He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to come back. We started one run at a time and started scoring and scoring and scoring until we were able to tie it, and then he kept them right there, and we took the lead and took off. After he was done, the rest of the guys came in and did an unbelievable job.

If it wasn't for what he was able to do behind Chris and picking him up and us up, I mean, we wouldn't have been able to win this game and collectively pitching staff and defense and offense one through nine, it was a huge collective win for us tonight.

Q. Tanner, you mentioned you liked being in the opposing stadium and have people yell at you. When you come into the game it's 5-2, this place is pretty loud. How satisfying was it for you to change the momentum and get this place quiet?

TANNER HOUCK: Yeah. I mean, having momentum in this game is huge and having fan support is also huge. That's why I believe we perform so well at Fenway is because, I mean, every time we're out there it sounds like it's going to absolutely explode, but to be put in that spot and just have the trust of my teammates and just to have them continuing to fight and just seeing the look in their eyes of we're not out of this yet, it's only 5-2, it's only three runs. We can come back. That's nothing. I mean, led the league in comeback wins this year, like Kike said. Why not now? Why not come back in such a big spot and just to go out there and really just continuing to fight and realizing, like, all right, we're backed in a corner now. You can either roll over and die, or you can show your teeth a little bit and fight.

I think that's what the team does best, and, I mean, just all props to them to continue to go out there and do what they've done.

Q. Kike, what's it like just going from zero runs last night to 14 tonight and also, you know, how much of a lift was it for you guys just having J.D. back in the lineup?

KIKE HERNANDEZ: Obviously it was huge. We didn't really -- we didn't have a good night last night, and with our lineup, it's just kind of a matter of time. And having J.D. back, even if he didn't do what he did tonight, just having his presence there in the lineup. He is not just one of our best hitters, but he has been one of the best hitters in baseball for a few years now.

So just having his presence and, obviously, his bat came out tonight, and he had four hits, and we knew it was. He had that three-run homer to put us ahead, and not enough can be said about what J.D. did tonight. And, obviously, he is dealing with that injury and for him to come like that and help the team that big of way, it was huge for us.

Q. Tanner, I know they're very proud of you back in Collinsville, Illinois, tonight. How do you describe the family and the coaches who helped make this day possible for you?

TANNER HOUCK: I'm incredibly thankful to every single person that's helped me on to the journey to get to this point. It truly does take a team to get to this point as well as a team on the field. So I've been truly blessed to have an incredible group off the field as well as on the field, so thank you to everyone that -- I mean, I can't even name them all. There are so many people that I could easily just rattle off to thank them for everything that they've done in terms of my career and just helping push me to reach my goals and reach my dreams.

MODERATOR: Memorable night for both of you. Thank you so much for coming in, and we'll see you in Boston.

TANNER HOUCK: Thank you.

KIKE HERNANDEZ: Thank you. Good night.

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