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October 20, 2022

Dusty Baker

Houston , Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 2 Press Conference

Houston Astros - 3, New York Yankees - 2

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Dusty Baker.

Q. Alex had kind of a difficult first half of the year and he really turned it on after the All-Star break. Where did you see him kind of turn his season around, anything specific you can kind of point to?

DUSTY BAKER: The main thing is that he stayed healthy and stayed in the lineup. That was a problem the last couple years before that. He never really got going for a couple years there.

But this year I think he played more games than anybody and that gave him time to get his stroke, get his legs together. He's been remarkable in the second half and into these playoffs. He didn't have a very good playoff last year. So he's a big-game guy. He enjoys it. He's a gym rat that enjoys baseball as much as anything.

Q. What did you think about Framber overall and especially how he was able to shake off that mess in the 4th inning and finish the game well?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, great question. I mean, he was great. He came out, you don't see him throwing 95 consistently like that. And then he found his breaking ball in the middle innings and he was changing speeds on his breaking ball. He was outstanding.

You always worry about a young player being able to shake off something like that, but Maldy, the guys on the team, they told him, Hey, forget it. We still got the lead. Go out and pitch. He might have shut 'em out had he not had his own miscues.

But that shows you we all got something to work on and he's been working on it. He'll be better. But I tell you, he was outstanding. That's a heck of a lineup that he pitched against tonight.

Q. Abreu in the 8th against the top of their order, what's given you just the confidence in him this postseason?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, the confidence comes from what he did during the season. He's matured. He's matured a hundred percent in his confidence and his command of the strike zone. And we didn't have Montero tonight and we weren't really sure about Pressly either. We got a couple guys that we could have turned to but we kind of felt that we kind of went with the hot hand. And the hitters they had up, especially the left-handed hitters, he's been tough. He's been very tough. That's what gives us confidence. We're in a performance game and the better you perform you climb up the ladder in the areas of where we can use him.

Q. Every game that you guys have played in the playoffs it's been tight, it's been close. I think we mentioned pregame it could have gone either way. What are you seeing from your team that's allowing to you find a way to win these games? Sometimes it's power, sometimes it's defense, sometimes it's pitching. But collectively it's just been overall very sharp baseball through all five games overall.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, you know, the playoffs, you're going to be facing No. 1s and No. 2s and No. 3s every once in awhile. You're going to be facing their top pitchers. They're not going to, starters usually are going to go a little shorter and go into their quality in their bullpen. You're going to get, the high-leverage guys that you would normally get during the season, you'll get them in the middle of the ball game. I mean, look at LoƔisiga, what time of the game he came in.

So you know they're going to be close ball games. We're a high-contact team, which helps us a lot. Once you start winning these close games like we did down the stretch and most of the year has went in our favor because I think our win-loss record in one-run games is high. Once you get used to that -- and a lot of that, when you win these close games, it's pitching and defense. Usually we don't beat ourselves. We don't care what the score was or is, just as long as we touch home plate one more time than they do.

Q. You guys have pitched Judge really well so far this series --

DUSTY BAKER: Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Q. I'm not trying to jinx it. Well, two big at-bats tonight when there was a runner on. Framber got him out in the 5th and then Abreu in the 8th inning. What have been the keys so far and how do you think that your pitchers have done not being too intimidated by him and all he brings?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, he's the biggest dude in baseball and the most powerful guy in baseball. You would rather not have to face him with any men on base, you know, and we've escaped so far. You would rather not have to face Judge in those situations, but you know sooner or later you're going to have to face him. You can't pitch around him all the time because they got some very dangerous guys coming up behind him. That's the power of how your team or their team sets their lineup.

So like I said, we're not going to mess with Judge too much. We just kind of leave him alone.

Q. Some thoughts about going up there now up 2-0 in this series.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, my thoughts are we're going to try to get that third one because that's the only thing that you can control is that one game at a time, that third game. So we're just going to try to play the same way we've been playing. Hopefully we get some guys hot. We got a few guys hot. We would like to get everybody hot before it's over with.

Q. As the 9th inning began at what point did you notice the fan coming onto the field? Was there concern for what obviously might happen with Altuve and concern that it might impact how the flow of the game or the inning would go?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. I mean, I didn't notice it until the crowd started going crazy, then I looked out and, I mean, what he did was wrong, but he looked harmless. It looked like he was doing it out of love and respect for Altuve. And I think Altuve handled it very well. You hate to see that happen because Pressly was ready and he had to back off and had to regroup himself, because when you're coming out of the bullpen and they're playing that song, his song, you sort of get into a flow of things, you take your warm up pitches, and then you're ready to go. So that kind of broke that. But he's been around a long time and he handled it well.

Q. Not to state the obvious, but just how important are home runs for what you guys are doing right now? I think, especially at this time of year in the playoffs I think most of your run production, even dating back to the Seattle series, has come from the home run.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, you look, those guys over there, most of their runs come on home runs or walks, after you walk somebody, a home run. So you hate to live and die by the home run, but you'll take 'em when you get 'em. It's hard to, you don't see many rallies with three or four hits in a row, period. That's the same way during the regular season. I mean, it's a different game now.

Like I said, it's very important when you hit the home runs that they're meaningful and the scores are such that most home runs that are hit are meaningful. So you can't just hit home runs when you feel like it because if so, we would hit like seven, eight a night.

Q. Can you talk about Tucker's catch on the ball in the 8th that Judge hit at the track.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. Tuck, he's one of the best right fielders in the world. You never know in this ballpark if a ball is going to go out of right field or not. It's a short porch, short fence. Judge can reach any part of the ballpark. Guys like him and Stanton and those guys, it doesn't matter, really matter where they play.

But a lot of their power is the opposite field and we didn't know. I mean, at the time, I mean, Howie Kendrick was just in here and they were still talking about Howie hitting that home run off the right field foul pole when he was with Washington.

So, yeah, I'm just glad that it stayed in the park.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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