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October 20, 2021

Dusty Baker

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Fenway Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 5 Press Conference

Astros 9, Red Sox 1

Q. Who are you starting tomorrow in Game 6?

DUSTY BAKER: We haven't decided yet.

Q. Today with Alvarez, he did some stuff against Sale that few left-handed hitters have ever done. What did you see from his approach and just what does he mean to your lineup?

DUSTY BAKER: I mean, he is a big boy in the middle, and, you know, he was just attacking. He was ready to swing, and nobody else could hit him, but Alvarez had him, and if you have one guy in the lineup that comes up at the right time, it makes all the difference in the world. Chris Sale is one of the best pitchers around and has been for years. He was throwing 95 to 97, throwing better than he was last time we saw him.

So I'm just glad we had Alvarez tonight because whenever Sale got in trouble, he found a way to strike guys out, all except Alvarez.

Q. How was Framber able to put it all together after a couple of rough outings during the playoffs?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. Seems like he put it behind him, and he had Maldi directing him. Maldi would get on him at the right time, and he was throwing strikes. He had a good tempo going. He threw -- he didn't mess around forcing that breaking ball, like he had the last couple starts, and then getting behind. He was attacking the strike zone, and, I mean, his pitch count was very, very low. He only got in trouble a couple of times, and then like I've always said, that sinker can get you out of trouble with two outs on one pitch, and I think that happened three or four times tonight. I don't know how many turned, but I know we turned at least three, possibly four.

Q. Dusty, what does it say about Alvarez as a hitter that he does so much damage going to the opposite field?

DUSTY BAKER: You got to stay on the ball, number one. He hits the ball in the opposite field and it stays straight. It doesn't have a slice on it, and everybody knows he can pull the ball, but he also has power the other way. He is only going to get better. Like last year at this time, we didn't have Alvarez, and we came close to going to the series last year without Alvarez, and now we have Alvarez, and we're very, very grateful and thankful that we have him.

And he has worked exceptionally hard to keep his legs together. He had both knees operated on, and we didn't know how much playing he was going to do or if he was going to be able to play the outfield. That's a tribute to him, the fact of how hard he has worked and he has continued to work to keep the strength there. He is feeling more and more confident with his body and more and more confident in his stroke.

Q. When a pitcher is dealing like Framber was tonight between innings do you prefer to kind of leave him alone to do his own thing? Are you trying to encourage him a little bit? How do you manage that?

DUSTY BAKER: We leave him alone anyway. If a guy is dealing, you just let him keep dealing. If he is not dealing, then you got to make some adjustments, the pitching coaches will talk to him. Like, Carlos will talk to him. He got out of whack that one time, and I went to the mound because invariably he had a no-hitter. Everybody knew he had a no-hitter, and then they get a hit, and then he hits the batter, and then that's the time that you really got to settle him down and just take the air out the ball, because the crowd was about to get into it. And he threw up a double-play pitch and then he went back to dealing again.

Q. What did you say to him on the mound?

DUSTY BAKER: I call him Framboso. I said, man, you're the best. Man, just be natural and just do your thing.

You know, Danielle, I didn't say a whole bunch to him. It was kind of like you call a 20-second time-out in basketball and try to take the air out of the game. That was a 20-second time-out that probably took 15 seconds.

Q. I was going to ask about your mound visit, but instead, what did you say to the umpires there in the sixth? Was that about the light out there in center, or what was that about?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. I know that Alex Cora had said something about the light out in center, and then he came over to me and said it really wasn't a light. It wasn't anybody's eyes or point of vision or distraction. It was some reflective tape that somebody had put out there, and so it wasn't -- it looked like a light shining off, you know, off the lights, but I didn't really see it. I didn't have the angle to see it.

Q. You guys were down 2-1 in this series. It was on the verge of being 3-1 before that Altuve home run. You talk about your team's confidence all the time, but what did you see from your team at the end of Game 4 and then from the start to the finish today to where you guys were able to completely flip the series, and now be one win away from reaching the World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it started with some clutch hits last night. I think we were helped by a couple of walks and possibly an error, and then today it was in the hands of Framber. Like I said before the game, everybody talks about momentum, but momentum is controlled by the pitcher. If the pitcher is dealing, all the momentum is gone. And if the pitcher has a rough outing, then you continue that momentum. It was in the hands of the pitcher. This was in this hands of Framber, and really in the hands of Alvarez. Then, everybody else contributed and chipped in, and ended up being 9-1.

Q. You guys have had such a knack for two-out production. What is it about your approach in those moments that has led to such consistent success and how important was it to have that tonight?

DUSTY BAKER: It was very important to have it tonight. It was very important to have it every night, if you can. You can't get them when you want them, but the thing about it is you have to make contact. It's about contact, and if you are not making contact, you don't have any chance of getting those two-out hits. Put the ball in play, and then anything can happen. And if you accept the walks, swinging at balls in the strike zone, then that puts runners on base and puts the pitcher in the stretch, and then potentially we have guys up and down the lineup that know how to drive them in.

Q. I'm not going to ask you how good you feel, but how do you feel about things going back home up 3-2?

DUSTY BAKER: I feel good. I don't feel great. I won't feel great until we accomplish our goal. I've been up a couple of times 3-2. I was up 3-2 one time in Chicago and going back to Wrigley with Kerry Wood and let's see...

Q. Mark Prior.

DUSTY BAKER: And Mark Prior pitching. I was feeling confident at that time, but you got to get the job done. You can feel confident all you want to, but those guys there taking the last breath and the final life out of anything is -- it's a tough road. They're going to fight you until the end.

Yeah, I mean, I feel good. I don't feel great.

Q. You said yesterday that it's too late for you to try to change the world, but having a starting pitcher go eight innings in a playoff game isn't something you see very much. Is that refreshing to you to have that? Not just as a manager benefited by it, but as a baseball person to see that back in the game?

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah. It's very -- it makes me feel great. The fact that he went the third time around, which kind of dispels some of the things. His pitch count was very low, which helped, and a guy throwing double-play pitches when you are getting six out on three pitches, I mean, that's two innings worth on three pitches. That helps, you know, when you do that. You don't have to strike anybody out. They're not going to foul off a bunch of pitches, which makes the pitch count go exceptionally high.

Pounding the strike zone, and I know everybody can't throw ground balls or sinker, but they're teaching everybody to throw the ball up, you know, in the zone, and you get a lot of strike-outs, but you also get a lot of pitches and, therefore, you don't go deep in games too much.

Q. Dusty, so Framber Valdez was your first starter to go beyond the third inning this ALCS. How important is that for your team, and for your bullpen?

DUSTY BAKER: It's very important, and it puts us in a pretty good position in our bullpen, especially with the day off tomorrow. So a lot of these guys will have two days off versus just one day off, and then you can -- it's a two-game series now, and so, you know, we're playing for a split. We were hoping to come here. Because you're not going to come here usually and sweep the Red Sox. I know the Yankees did it. Tampa Bay maybe a couple of times, but that's a very difficult thing to do. Winning two out of three, that's the mantra of this team to win series. Now we're playing for a split, and hopefully the split comes in Game 6.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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