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October 19, 2022

Dusty Baker

Houston , Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 1 Press Conference

Houston Astros - 4, New York Yankees - 2

THE MODERATOR: First question for Dusty?

Q. Yesterday you told us you had no doubt that Verlander would bounce back. Kind of what did you see from him and how impressive is what he did tonight to you?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it didn't start off that way, but it was big of him to pitch out of trouble, when he got the strikeout to Donaldson. Boy, that was huge because, I mean, this guy, he can get out of trouble. And then the strikeout to Carpenter. He dialed it up. He got it together. He was actually better between 80 and a hundred than he was prior to that. He was dealing, especially that period of time, between 80 and a hundred and he found his rhythm. He found his breaking ball, because he didn't have his breaking ball early. Sometimes that happens. He knows how to pitch.

Q. You guys have had, all four of your playoff games have been very close, very tight. This was another one of those games to where it's close in the 6th inning. All of a sudden you're able to break it in the 7th inning with Peña's home run. What does it say about this team? You always mention it's somebody different, it's always somebody new, but this game kind of captured that as well.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it did. We left some men on base early. They left some men on base. There was a big double play that they got with the bases loaded. And then we just keep grinding, keep grinding, and tonight we made more contact than they made. Our bullpen did an outstanding job. That was big of Pressly, because I think that's the first time all year we've summoned him for a four-out save. But he was really good, very good.

Then we had some guys have big nights. McCormick had a big night. Maldy got us on the board. Peña had a big night. Yuli hit the ball great. He probably hit the ball out to Stanton that made a great play probably harder than anything. He had some good defense in there.

Big Judge made an outstanding play on Bregy's ball out there. I thought that we were on the board right there with two. So it was a good game to watch.

Q. You mentioned Justin kind of cruising through those 80 to a hundred pitches and that's not totally uncommon for him. What does it say about him as a pitcher and as a person to be able to close it out strong?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, yeah, he's in great shape and he's not only physically strong, which you can see, but he's mentally strong. This guy, he has mental toughness. When he's down and out and it looks like you got him in trouble, I mean, this guy, he can dial it up.

Q. You said that Peña is a rookie and he's quiet like one, but he doesn't act like one. Can you talk about what you continue to see from him.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, yeah, I mean, he just goes about his business and plays. He plays like a veteran, but he is a rookie. I was a rookie. I was a lot sillier than he was at that time because a lot of rookies are kind of silly, and sometimes you feed off of that silliness, the older players do. You kind of need that. But he's quiet and he goes about his business and he just comes to play.

Q. You played McCormick behind Verlander tonight, which you didn't often do in the regular season. Could you talk about what you're seeing from Chas in this postseason and what he's been doing?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, yeah, I mean, you know, this is, a lot of times there's an experiment in center field on who we play who behind whom. Chas had a great night tonight. He's had an outstanding postseason. The thing about Chas is that he's kind of oblivious to the situation and a lot of kind of what's going on. He just comes to play. His confidence is growing.

He was big tonight, not only with the hits that he got, but he got Maldy to the plate I think three different times so Maldy didn't have to lead off the inning, and we can lead off José the next inning. So that's big when you can roll your lineup around like that and the bottom of your lineup can get that ninth hitter to the plate.

Q. Considering there's just one day off in this series, how critical was it that Justin got you through six innings?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that was great. It didn't look like he was going to get there because early, man, I'm looking on the board up there and he had like almost 60 pitches after two, I think. I kept looking and looking, and I think I went on air in the third inning, and I just said, Hey, if he could get a couple short innings, he could take us deep into the ball game, and then that way you can get to your back end of your bullpen, which is, these guys did a great job.

Neris came in and did a great job. That 7th, 8th, and 9th is always tough, and if you can win that 7th, 8th, and 9th or if you have the lead, you can maybe exchange runs and then you can keep the lead.

Q. What does it say about the depth of your lineup that José is 0-19 in the playoffs and you've still been able to win every game you've played?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I tell you, I mean, José, he's due to break out and have some remarkable games. This guy has been good for so long, and sometimes the rest of your lineup got to carry a guy like that until he gets going. I'm just glad that we have the depth in our lineup that we do have or guys that say, Hey, man, you picked us up for so long, we'll pick you up until you get yourself together.

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