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November 2, 2021

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 6 Press Conference

Q. Dusty, what's it been like for you having so many lifelong friends traveling around the country seeing your postseason games?

DUSTY BAKER: They haven't really gotten in the way. They realize that I need my rest, but they're big fans and friends. They've come with us almost every stop. It feels good to have support, especially from the homeboys because these are guys, most of them I grew up with. I've known them since they were young kids, and now they're men. So, yeah, it feels good.

Q. What's the feeling like now that you guys are home and you have such a big opportunity in front of you for you and this team?

DUSTY BAKER: It seems like business as usual for our team. We realize what we're up against. After losing the first two games in Atlanta, our goal was to take it back to H-Town. We accomplished one goal. Now the goal is to take it to Game 7, and the only way to do that is to win tonight.

It feels great to be back home because you didn't want to come back home, which I've done in the past, feeling that you were home for the winter or feeling down about the outcome. Yeah, we've got a great opportunity here.

Q. With a younger group of guys, you might have to tell them to be more even keel, but you've said in the past this is just a really mature group. What's the mindset of this group going into this game?

DUSTY BAKER: The mindset is, hey, we've got to win. We won three in a row before. We won a whole bunch before. I know it's a young group, but we have -- the nucleus is veterans that have been here before. No matter how old you are or how young you are, you've got to -- this is a man's game now even though you play it like a young man. Hey, you've got to be a man. Just stand up and be counted for and play for your city and play for your family and play for your teammates.

Q. Dusty, you guys know Max Fried and the Braves bullpen. How much are you guys looking forward to facing that pitching staff tonight? How much is it a challenge?

DUSTY BAKER: It's a challenge. It's a big-time challenge. You just hope that he's not on early and hope we can get to him early. That's one of the secrets is to try to get the lead early and not play from behind. If you have to, you have to, but you'd rather not.

Q. Dusty, this probably doesn't apply to your team too much because they've been here before, but is one of the things as a manager, especially when you're behind the series, making sure guys aren't playing tight or showing any signs of the pressure getting? Is that one of the things you're gauging as you move along?

DUSTY BAKER: Not really. These guys, they never play tight. I don't want them to play tight. So a lot of them feed off each other, some of them may feed off me. But basically they feed off each other. These guys, no, they don't know how to play tight. They just come to play.

Q. Jake Odorizzi did make 20-plus starts for you guys this year. What went into the decision to start Luis on short rest versus Jake? He has a starter pedigree and has thrown a long relief for you this postseason.

DUSTY BAKER: Luis has thrown some good games for us. We had a choice probably between Jake, who hadn't really started in a while, but he's still available on long relief. We do have a short leash on Luis. We start Urquidy because the day he threw on his side day, which is not the same on the side as it is actual pitching. You exert more effort, mental and physical, in that.

So we're hoping we get to tomorrow with Urquidy. It was just a matter of who we thought can give us the best start at the beginning of the game and then it's all hands on deck kind of after that.

Q. We saw a lot of teams make that decision to use a bullpen game or a starter on short rest as opposed to maybe a number 4 or 5 starter. What do you make of that, just how the game has shifted toward that?

DUSTY BAKER: I noticed that Eovaldi against us in Boston. He wasn't quite as sharp on that start after his bullpen day. So you sort of take a page from other people's groups. You tend to know your personnel. He didn't go quite as long as he had the time before, so you had all those things in there. If it works, it's great. If not, he'll probably get criticized, but you've got to do what's best that you think for the team and the player.

Q. Dusty, you won your championship ring with the Dodgers in '81 as a player. Did you ever wear it back then? Do you wear it now?


Q. Why not?

DUSTY BAKER: Doesn't fit (laughter).

Q. Even at the time it didn't fit?

DUSTY BAKER: No, it did fit at the time, but I'm not the kind of guy that flashes your jewelry and stuff, you know what I mean? Some people like to wear it. It was a lot more sedate then than the rings they're giving out now. If you wear it now, you have to talk to people that maybe you might not want to talk to.


Q. As bullpens become more prominent and relievers come in games early and more often, hitters in short series face the same reliever multiple times. Does that make it harder for the relievers?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know if it makes it harder for the relievers, but I think it makes it easier on the hitters because, like I've always said, the nod goes to the pitcher if I hadn't faced him, because I used to try to figure out how the Yankees would hit Pedro Martinez so well in the past or hit some of these other guys, but they were facing them five or six or seven times a year.

So the more you face them, the more -- I get more familiar with their release point. I get more familiar with their sequence of pitches. Just the more familiar I get with what's bait that he wants me to go for and actually how he's trying to get me out.

Q. Dusty, they love your Spanish answer, so they want more from you. My question is about Jose Urquidy. He has now three victories in a World Series. That's the most by a player born outside the United States.


Q. Yes, really. What makes that guy so special? Is he going to be available tonight, or are you going to hold him all the way to potentially a Game 7?

DUSTY BAKER: Urquidy --

Q. In Spanish. Sorry.

DUSTY BAKER: No, you're not.


DUSTY BAKER: (In Spanish.)

Q. Dusty, have you gotten a chance to sit down one-on-one with Yordan and see where he is as far as how to get out of the slump?

DUSTY BAKER: No, not yet. I don't know if he's really in a slump, but he was just so hot the last series that they spent a lot of time on how to get Yordan out this time. He's young, and they're teasing him. They'll run from him for a while, then they'll come at him, and then they'll run from him, then they'll come at him, and then they'll run from him.

Just a matter of his maturity level as a hitter. He's still very young. I'm just going to urge him to be ready to swing at every pitch until you recognize the ball. It's easier than it sounds, but I saw Barry Bonds do it later in his career. So he's going to have to accelerate that in his own mindset because you might only get one or two quality pitches to hit a night, but you have to have the real coolness of mind to be patient but also have that aggressiveness as a hitter at the same time. Sometimes that's tough to get as a young player.

Q. Dusty, we've all gotten used to how bullpens are being used. I wanted to ask you a question about maybe the lineup. You guys make a change facing elimination to your No. 3 hitter. Atlanta changes their No. 3 hitter today. How significant is that --

DUSTY BAKER: I haven't seen that lineup. Who's their No. 3 hitter today?

Q. Freeman is, according to the --

DUSTY BAKER: That's a pretty good one.


Q. How significant is that for a team to do this late in the season, and how much do you go, well, this is the lineup that got us here or this is the player that got us here and what it means to be a No. 3 hitter?

DUSTY BAKER: That's a good question. I tried to do that. I like to stay with that until I see that it's not working. And then you make a move and talk to your players because everybody has a preference where they hit.

Personally, I never liked to hit cleanup because I'd start swinging for the fences, and I wasn't that kind of player. I liked to hit third or fifth because that was my comfort zone. So everybody has a comfort zone, but they also realize we have to combat what the other team's doing against us, and it's a very short period of time.

Carlos has hit third before when Bregman was out. Carlos is really probably the guy that's hit up and down the lineup almost everywhere. He's a guy that can adjust the quickest and still be himself. Probably Freddie Freeman is the same way. Freddie is going to be big Freddie no matter where he hits.

So Freddie. Who's leading off for them, Rosario?

Q. Rosario, Soler.

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, okay.


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