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October 31, 2021

Dusty Baker

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Truist Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 5 Press Conference

Houston - 9, Atlanta - 5

Q. Dusty, I wonder if you could take me through your vantage point. The two at-bats by Maldonado and Marwin there in the fifth against Minter. It looked like Maldonado went up there not wanting to swing, like wanting to work a walk. And then what did you see from Marwin going up first pitch?

DUSTY BAKER: It's not like he told me what's happening. Minter is a tough man. He's had our number pretty good this series. I'm just glad that Maldy got the walk and glad that Marwin, that was a big hit. That was a real big hit.

You can't let him get too far ahead of you because this guy has a lot of weapons to work with.

Q. Dusty, you dealt with this last year when you guys were down 3-0 in the ALCS, and obviously you need two more wins, but it seems like other people count you guys out, you guys always find a way to answer and respond. What does that continue to say about this team and this entire group that they can almost always find a way to get themselves out of this?

DUSTY BAKER: Number one, we don't really worry about what other people say or what they think. It's what you think of yourself and what you think of each other on the team that really counts.

These guys are together. They've been through many of these battles. So they don't know how to quit, and they're always looking for an edge or an opening. Fortunately tonight, we took advantage of some.

Q. The first inning grand slam, what were your thoughts when that ball sailed out? The fact it was the first inning, did that give you just some confidence you guys still had a lot of chances to win?

DUSTY BAKER: I always say, if it's going to happen, let it happen early. You don't want it to happen in the middle of the game or toward the end of the game. The guys came through. That's what counts.

Today really felt like the World Series because they got to go on the field and see all the people and see all the media. It felt like the World Series, where the others felt like we were coming out of the dungeon and just going to play. So that was big, the fact that we got to get on the field.

Q. Maldonado today, he's the guy at the bottom of the order. Compared to the other guys in that lineup, he's not the most dangerous batter, but he knocked in RBIs in three different ways -- a sac fly, a walk, and a single. Just how important is it for a guy like that at that point in your order to come through with driving the runs home?

DUSTY BAKER: It was real important, and the fact that he was battling and not looking at the scoreboard, you can get down looking up there. When you're hitting, you're not on the interstate. So another big hit which was huge was Bregman getting us back in that game so quickly because I'm sure everybody talks about the shutdown inning. That was a shutdown inning for them, but we answered back with two, and that made it a 2-0 game versus a 4-0 game.

Q. Talk about last year when you were down 3-0 to Tampa Bay, got it to a seventh game. Does 3-1 seem just a lot more manageable than 3-0? And do you feel like with them they had a chance to close it out and the pressure's now a lot more on that they've got to get on a plane?

DUSTY BAKER: No, not really.

The pressure's still on us because they've got the lead. They've got to win one, and we've got to win two. But the fact is we are going home. We didn't want to end here with the celebration here. We wanted to go home to give us the best chance to win with our fans because you see how important the fans are here to this team. They're equally as important with our team.

As far as getting us ready, us knowing the field, us knowing the conditions, and just the comforts of being home versus being on the road.

Q. Using Urquidy today, obviously he did a nice job, but does that take him out of the mix for Game 6? And do you know who you're starting in Game 6?

DUSTY BAKER: We're down to kind of Garcia at this point. I think that's regular rest or one day short. When you're down 3-1, you've just got to kind of pull out all the stops to your rotation. If a guy's tired, it really doesn't matter because your next step is home, and like we weren't ready to go home.

All the guys gutted it out and gave us all that they had, including Urquidy. We thought Urquidy could not -- at that point, you didn't want to trade runs with him. You wanted to shut him down to give you the chance to come back.

Q. Do you mind expanding a little bit on that pregame element? You guys had more hits tonight than you did in the previous two games combined. Is that something you expected to take sort of a jump as a result of being able to get out there, a lot of guys being able to get in the field?

DUSTY BAKER: It's kind of like a rain delay, it felt like. It changes your routine. You go out, you catch ground balls, you run, you throw, you take batting practice. Then you come back in, get a snack, something to eat. Then an hour, hour and a half before the game, and you're getting your mind together.

Like I said, today felt like the World Series for us. The other days felt like -- I mean, that's the weirdest probably three days that I've ever seen in the World Series that I've never not hit on the field at the opposing team. That was big. That was real big for us.

Q. I heard you talk about your team's comeback ability and your team's mindset in those situations. You've been around a lot of teams. How extraordinary is this? How unusual? How special is this to have that mindset over and over?

DUSTY BAKER: It's very special. The hardest thing to do is to do it the first time, and then once you do it the first time, you figure that you can do it the second, the third, the fourth, and the fifth time. Then you call upon your past for confidence that you can do it.

A lot of people that haven't been there, you're like, okay, I can do it when I get there, but you really don't know until you get there if you can do it. This team has a very strong mind, strong will, dealing with adversity, dealing with booing, dealing with this, with the amount of negative energy that was cast our way throughout the year.

Q. Dusty, did you think about pinch-hitting for Maldonado with the bases loaded, and do you think your decision might have been different if Castro had still been on the roster?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, if Castro's, who is -- no, if Castro is on the roster, I probably wouldn't have pinch-hit Castro against Minter. At the time -- what inning was that, the fourth or fifth inning? Yeah, and then there's always -- around that fifth, sixth, seventh inning, that's the inning of decision when you have to kind of make a decision on what you're going to do because you're running out of time but you still have time to come back.

So, no, I was hoping that Maldy would get a hit, turn it over to Marwin Gonzalez, and then we had the top of the order coming up with Altuve. I mean, it worked. A lot of stuff worked tonight. Like that's why we hit Greinke at the time that we did because I didn't want to burn one of my other pinch-hitters because, when you're in the National League, I think they have six extra men and we only have five.

So it's a little bit easier in our league because you don't have to hit for the pitcher two or three times during the course of the game.

Q. You had said Tuesday with Marwin that he was up to the moment in a big game. Since you got him when he was released and went down to the Minors, what do you see in him that makes you think that?

DUSTY BAKER: Again, his background. This guy's done it in the past. He still loves to play. He's not out of shape. He's not overweight. I guess in Boston the last couple years and in Minnesota. Number one, like we know him. We have guys here that can fix him. I thought that he was fixable.

Being of Latin American descent, most Latin Americans are not crazy about cold weather. You go to Minnesota in April and May and you go to Boston in April and May and September, those places aren't conducive for most people from warm weather climates.

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