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November 1, 2021

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Workout Day Press Conference

Q. What impresses you the most about Phil Maton since you guys got him and especially what he's been able to do for you guys in the playoffs?

DUSTY BAKER: He's gotten better. He's one of the players that you have to have him for a while to grow on you by his performance. His ability to get guys out, not throwing at a super high velocity, but the fact that they don't pick up the ball as well as they should, which makes his fastball look faster and his breaking ball look like it's breaking more than it is.

And he got some guts, which will take you a long ways.

Q. Garcia going tomorrow, it looked like he was kind of your only option at this point, but how much do you think you can get out of him at three days' rest at this point? What do you think might line up after that?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. It depends where we are in the lineup. He's not our only option. We have Odorizzi. We could come back with Urquidy because yesterday was his throw day, but I'd rather not. So we've got a full option.

We have a well-rested mound, you know, Javier. After him, we have a well-rested Odorizzi. Well-rested Taylor. Semi-rested Raley. Semi-rested, you know, the rest of the bullpen probably, other than Graveman, then we'll see how he feels. A pretty well-rested now Pressly.

So there could be full bullpen, and then we're worried about Game 7 on Wednesday.

Q. Dusty, obviously you have a lot of stars on this team, but how valuable is it to have these role players that can come off the bench and deliver a big hit or have a big moment for you guys?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, it's like in every sport, you've got to have the guys that come off the bench and, you know, like you have a third down rusher. In basketball, you have a sixth and seventh man. In every sport, these guys make the difference because you wear your stars out and they can't do it all the time. You have to have other guys on your team that you call upon, especially in a specialty situation. You've got your nickelback in football.

It's the same way this baseball. Your extra guys with the guys that put you over the top.

Q. Dusty, what was the feel just coming back with the team last night, flying back, clubhouse, after that win. The players sounded very, very confident. I think, if you look at it one way, for as much as we want to talk about history and coming back from 3-1, you really just have to win two home games, which you've done a hundred times before to win the World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: Right. Well, still, we have to win two, and they have to win one. But we came back today. We didn't come back last night. That would have been back too late. Let the guys get semi rest. We came back, actually, right now. So I think that was a good choice.

The Braves are also coming back here a little later this afternoon. I mean, the guys are happy, but they weren't like really overjoyed. They know that we still have work to do, and like when we -- you want to go up there and win three. When it didn't happen in Game 1 and Game 2, you're behind the eight ball, then you change your rally cry to we just want to get back to the H-town. We want to come back home.

Now our whole thing is win Game 1, which is Game 6, and then put us in a position to win Game 7.

Q. Dusty, just how much better did Bregman look to you yesterday? Do you plan on keeping him in the same spot that he was in last night?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. I mean, he looked better. But you just don't come out of something overnight generally. It didn't take you a day to get in this mess, and it's not going to take you a day to get out. But he looked a lot better. He got the biggest hit of the night to me, up to that point, at least, to get us back in the game.

I'm not sure. Probably so. But one day doesn't mean that you're out of the woods yet.

Q. I think you mentioned yesterday you were going to talk to Castro and see how he's doing. Do you think there's any chance that he could be activated on these last two games, and how is he doing?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably not. I tried to call him today, and he didn't answer his phone. I tried to call him this morning actually, and I left him a message. So no, probably not.

Q. You touched on it a little bit. You didn't just stave off elimination, you fought off a huge deficit early. What can this do for a club, all those things combined, going into another elimination game?

DUSTY BAKER: If you want it to happen in an inning, you want it first or second inning that gives you eight or nine innings to come back. You don't want it to happen in the middle part of the game when you have less outs to come back or even later.

I figure, if you can hold on where they were, you can't let them trade runs at that time. You can't let them add on runs. Even though at that time the other team is operating on a very confident offensive high at that time, and you have to sort of try to take the momentum away from them, steady the game.

But that was big. I can't repeat how big that double by Bregman was because that cut -- and then we got sac fly. That cut the deficit. 4-0 sounds like a lot, and all of a sudden, it's 2-0, you know what I mean? It's a big difference.

So that was a huge, huge -- and then the error by them. Dansby doesn't usually make errors. Usually whenever a rally starts, there's usually an error or a couple walks. Very rarely in modern baseball do they get like two, three, four consecutive runs in a row. I'm sorry. Not runs in a row, hits in a row.

Q. Castro was able to make it back to Houston at least?

DUSTY BAKER: Not yet. I think he's coming back this afternoon.

Q. Dusty, in this series, the Braves have scored 12 of their 18 runs on home runs. It's been their biggest weapon. You've only scored two on homers, on two Altuve's solo homers. Does that disparity surprise you? And going into these last two games, does that put the impetus on you all to manufacture runs?

DUSTY BAKER: Not really. They'd have been on the home run a lot anyway. And we'd have been on the home run sometime. But when you've held -- let's see. Has Tucker had a home run in this series yet?

Q. No, Jose has both of your home runs.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, exactly. When you hold Tucker, especially when you hold big Alvarez, you're holding Bregman, you're holding Carlos, these guys are due. Like I said, when we first went to Atlanta, it was tough to hit those first couple days in Atlanta because we hadn't been on the field. We didn't know sight lines. We didn't know the backdrop.

It was like coming out with no practice. Like when's the last time you've seen a football game and they don't come out in the elements and practice? Or when's the last time you see a basketball game and they don't have the morning shootaround?

They have that for a reason. Not only to learn the vision, but to also get your blood circulating. Yesterday was more like the team that we know than the first couple games there.

Q. Dusty, just wanted to follow up real quick, you outlined previously some of your potential other options for Game 6. What made Luis Garcia the choice for you on short rest then?

DUSTY BAKER: We think that he's the best for the job. We realize that he has a short leash, but then everybody out there has a short leash and operating on low rest or not full rest.

Q. How emotional was it for you before Game 3 to be able to see the wall of Hank Aaron and see his kids and that video tribute? I remember I talked to you earlier about how they did it at the All-Star Game, and you said that you hate that you didn't make it to that. How emotional was it for you?

DUSTY BAKER: It was emotional. You know, like after a while, you've got to kind of hold your emotions in check. You never really get over it.

Just like the death of my dad, I mean, every once in a while, I get really emotional. But I'm not a cryer, per se, because my dad didn't like crybabies, he used to call it. I didn't cry at my dad's funeral. I cried a couple weeks later in the shower where it just hits you.

I mean, my dad wouldn't -- I mean, he wouldn't like that. He used to tell us I'll give you something to cry about, you know what I mean? So that meant that he was about to get you a switch or pull his belt off or something.

Yeah, it was emotional, but I was glad to see his kids and see Billye. It was probably really emotional on Billye. Then his kids called me out on the field because I wasn't going. That was Hank and the family's. But I'm one of the family.

Q. The lineup alterations you made yesterday really paid some dividends. Do you see yourself using a similar lineup in Game 6? And with Alvarez presumably being the DH, have you decided who will start in center tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I haven't really -- I've thought about it, but I haven't really, really decided exactly what I'm going to do. It depends who I think is the best to hit free, the best that we need outfield coverage, what we need for energy, who's kind of been hot, who's been cold.

So I'll sit on that tonight. Usually, the thoughts come to me in the middle of the night, like most of them do. Like the lineup change yesterday came to me in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping. These things, they come to me, and you can't really control when they come to you.

Like my dad used to tell me, some things you've got to sleep on. So I'll try to sleep on it.

Q. Dusty, you mentioned Fried. What were your impressions of him in Game 2, especially that second time through the order when he really kind of settled down and got into a groove?

DUSTY BAKER: I can't brag on him, you know what I mean, because we got to -- I can't pump him up too much because we've got to beat him. It's no secret that the guy's got good stuff. Outstanding breaking ball, good fastball, good change-up.

Q. You talk about these decisions come to you at night. How much input does James Click and the analytics staff have in lineup changes and even maybe who gets to start as pitcher?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, not too much. Not too much on the lineup. They kind of leave that up to me. They have more input on the pitching side of things. They usually -- the organization gets together because we have quite a few pitching guys here in the analytics department, and it's probably bigger on the pitching side of things, bullpen side of things, matchup side of things. We have charts and things, you know, pocket sheets and stuff that we have to decipher and use at our discretion.

Q. In the past, you've told us that you don't have much trouble going to sleep with the help of some scotch. So I'm wondering if --

DUSTY BAKER: I don't need it; I just like it.

Q. I'm wondering, once you come to those lineup decisions, can you go straight back to sleep? Is it almost like comfort because you figured it out?

DUSTY BAKER: Nope. Nope. It's been like that my whole career. It first started happening when I changed Robby Thompson to 2nd, from 7th to 2nd. He hit .318, and I changed Rich Aurilia from 7th to 2nd. And I had Barry Bonds, he hit 35 home runs.

You can't help what comes to you. So I've learned to trust what comes to me. It comes from above, as far as I'm concerned.

Whenever these lineup changes come to me, I'll analyze it and say, okay, this makes sense. Or sometimes I'll say, man, that doesn't make sense, but I'll try it anyway. Most of the time it works, but it don't just come to you just out of the blue. It comes to you when your team is struggling, like we were.

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