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October 27, 2021

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 2 Press Conference

Q. I ask this question understanding not everyone in your lineup can be hitting red hot all the time. As you look at Altuve and Bregman perhaps not hitting the way they're accustomed to hitting, what are you seeing, and what are your thoughts about getting them on track?

DUSTY BAKER: Number one, they're pitching them tough. Sometimes you start chasing them around the strike zone, and when you're cold, the pitchers are very brave when you're cold. When you're hot, then they're a lot more apprehensive, which creates mistakes.

I batted behind Hank Aaron, and he'd get more hangers and nothing sinkers than anything, and I'd get up there, and the ball is just darting and moving and stuff. Hank would tell me, I already did the damage. I hit the home run off the hanger, and now the pitcher is relaxing, and the worst guy to face is a relaxed pitcher because he's going to throw his best breaking ball or that sinker or whatever.

So we just have to get them back to not be as brave or bold by execution.

Q. Dusty, are you ready to say who your Game 4 starter will be?

DUSTY BAKER: No, not yet. I mean, we're only on Game 2.

Q. Dusty, Brantley got two hits off of left-handed pitching last night. Over the season, he did struggle a little bit against left-handed pitching. Was it encouraging last night to see him get those couple hits? Why do you think he did have some struggles against lefties all year?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, number one, Michael Brantley can hit. Number two, you go through streaks. You don't stay hot the whole time. That's impossible. Michael Brantley, didn't he come in second in the league in hitting or something?

Sometimes there's no explanation. Everybody wants an explanation. Sometimes there's no explanation. Sometimes they get you out. It ain't that easy to hit. I mean, contrary to popular belief. Plus every time they've got lefties, they're going to bring him in on Michael Brantley. So I ain't got nothing but praise for Michael Brantley.

Q. Something that may not have an explanation, and I know this goes back to before you were here, but the Astros not winning games at home in the World Series, home teams not winning, how do you account for that?

DUSTY BAKER: Don't ask me. I'm serious. Number one, I wasn't here. Number two, nothing remains the same over a period of time. So I also believe in the law of averages. So I believe in that law of averages big. So we do reel off a bunch of them.

Q. Dusty, going back to Bregman for a second, he's kind of had just a tough year in general to where he started well, had the injury, had to fight to come back, kind of found it; and then in the playoffs, maybe the power isn't there as much. What have you seen from him overall as he's tried to find his way through this season?

DUSTY BAKER: He missed, what, 60 games. So that's 60 games of repetition that the opposition has over him. You're playing catch-up the whole time, the whole year. That's very tough. When do you catch up?

I mean, he's put in the time. He's put in the work. Law of average is on his side too, big time. Bregman can hit, and he thinks he can hit, and he will hit. So it's just a matter of him staying confident. That's number one.

Q. Dusty, you played the first game last night, nine innings, four hours and six minutes. I bet in your career you probably never played a nine-inning game that lasted four hours.

DUSTY BAKER: I don't think so.

Q. Does it feel slow or fast when you're in it? And do you have a suggestion or two that might tweak it?

DUSTY BAKER: No, it doesn't feel -- sometimes it feels slow. But commercial time pays the bills, and that's the reality of it all. You can cut down the commercial time, and then you got to cut down the amount of money that's passed around.

Q. Back in '02, obviously different series, different players, but the team that won that first game is not the team that won that series. You said last night that you don't worry about them in terms of what you do going into Game 2. But is there anything you draw upon in terms of series to series, in terms of what you think about what the team's chances are going forward?

JOSE SIRI: Well, I've seen most of everything. I've seen some teams down 3-0 and come back, and I've been up 3-2. As a player, we were up 2-0 over the Yankees, and we had never lost a series at home the entire year. So we won two in New York and figured we were going back to L.A. All we've got to do is do what we've been doing, win 2 out of 3, and the series is ours. They beat us all three and made us go back to New York and lose one too.

There's no rhyme or reason, but the one thing that I don't understand is, just like in Boston, they had us written off already at 2-1. People are like texting me, oh, it's okay, man. It's all right. It's like, dude, this is a seven-game series. It ain't no one-game series. If it was a one-game series, I mean, you can save all of us sleepless nights and just go home now. That's why it's a seven-game series.

Q. Dusty, on the game times, are you in favor of a pitch clock being put in, and has your view on that changed at all over the years?

DUSTY BAKER: That's something I don't think about. Yeah, that's not a bad idea. But nobody asks me any of this. So I hear these different things. I don't know. It's up to the league office.

Q. Will your players adapt quickly?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably. We've adapted to a lot of rule changes. I mean, a lot of it starts -- it would be easier to adapt if you're doing like they're doing now to initiate these things in the Minor Leagues so that by the time they get here, it will become second nature.

Q. Dusty, your team has been so good at putting tough losses behind them and just looking forward. What do you think is the biggest key that has allowed this team to just move on quickly?

DUSTY BAKER: Confidence and belief, I think. More than anything, these guys, like I've said many times, they don't worry. Or else if they do, they worry internally. You don't see any difference in anything that they do from day to day.

To me, that's true confidence when you don't worry.

Q. How well do you think Brent Strom combines traditional methods and modern methods? And how has your relationship been with him over the course of the season?

DUSTY BAKER: It's been great. We agree on most things. Some things we don't agree on, which is healthy, I think. Disagreement is healthy. It gives you a different point of view sometimes. Sometimes I'll say, okay, that's a good one. Or sometimes he'll say, let's do this, and I'll say no, and he'll say okay, that's a good one too.

As a manager, I have the final say, but I'm kind of the president down there with my cabinet, or I like to look at it as I'm the head coach in football and my defensive coordinator is my pitching coach and our offensive coordinator is our batting coach. So we combine all of the above and try to come up with what we think gives us the best chance.

You know, there is no correct answer for everything, and it's only correct with you guys if it works.

Q. Do you feel like the pitching coach needs to have a foot in both worlds, the traditional methods and the --

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah, definitely. I'm here to hopefully make the game better and combine the two worlds. There's a lot of people that separate the two worlds. Most of our world now is are you on the right or left? Are you in the black or white? I've never been on either side. I'm here to combine the two worlds.

Q. The roof's open tonight. Just wondering if you like that. Have you heard the players talk about it at all after you haven't played with the roof open since April?

DUSTY BAKER: No, not really. I've only been here a couple times, and this is my home, with the roof open. I don't know how it's going to affect the ball, if it carries better or worse. There's always going to be a predominant wind direction, which with the roof open will probably take away some of our home-field advantage because we don't really probably know much more how the ball's going to carry in a predominant wind any more than they do.

Q. Yesterday you said you haven't changed as much as the game has over the years. I'm curious, watching Altuve make the throws from right center and down the line, a second baseman coming up in this day and age probably has to perfect a whole new drill set, skill set.


Q. Is that something you see from the beginning of Spring Training with him?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that's something that you see in the Minor Leagues and something that you see big time in the Big Leagues, and we practice that. Before with traditional infields, the guy stood between first and second. Now he's sometimes in right field, sometimes on second base, and one time he's behind second base. I mean, you have to practice it.

The one thing that's very difficult for the middle infielders and even third basemen when you see them, turning a double play from second baseman to third baseman. Or sometimes a double play ball gets through the infield, or sometimes there's nobody there to turn a double play.

That's what I think that it affects as much as anything because pitcher's best friend is a double play. Any time you get two outs on one pitch, that's huge.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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