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November 3, 2022

Dusty Baker

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Citizens Bank Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 5 Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Dusty.

Q. How much do you think it's helped your young pitchers to have Josh Miller and Bill Murphy, who were with most of them in the minor leagues, at the big league level?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think it helped them a lot. Being familiar with someone professionally and personally you know which guys you can push, which guys need to be left alone. It is a sport and profession and the more you know about that person then the easier it is to convey your message to that person.

Q. Altuve was just saying that he has faith that Verlander's going to be Verlander tonight. Bregman was saying that last night, that the entire clubhouse believes. From your perspective, having watched him the entire season, you know what he can do. It's probably just a matter of one thing happening. How much confidence do you have that Justin Verlander can break through this tonight?

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah, I got a lot of confidence. I mean, this guy's had a great career and it's not over yet. We always have some things that we have to overcome no matter how great you are. So I saw, I was with Barry Bonds when he overcame that, he didn't have very good postseasons.

And oh, yeah, I mean, we got full confidence in Justin. Everybody's wondering, is he on a short leash? I mean, no, he doesn't have a leash at all. I mean, he's Justin Verlander. Nobody can get out of trouble better than him. I've seen it over and over and over and I hope he doesn't get in trouble and just hope that he's Verlander.

Q. You mentioned Barry Bonds' postseason career and Justin's, and Kershaw in L.A. has had the same kind of thing. How much did that matter in a player's legacy?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it matters. That's what people remember. I mean, that's -- I got 2,000 wins and all they talk about is I haven't won the World Series yet. You know? So what's the difference? You know what I mean?

So, yeah, it matters. It matters to the people. It matters to us.

Q. Abreu has said a couple times now that he had no idea that a no-hitter was in progress when he came in last night. What do you think hearing him say that?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, hey, man, I'm glad he didn't know. Sometimes when you know, you put extra pressure on yourself. And the fact that he didn't know just meant that he just went out there and pitched. I mean, I knew. Most guys know. And that's one of his best buddies out there that was pitching prior to him.

So I'm just glad that he just went out there and threw the ball the way he was throwing it because he was outstanding.

Q. Obviously last night being pretty historic like with the no-hitter and everything. Realmuto and Rob Thomson both said that for them just one game, move on, Game 5 tonight. What about you guys, though, on the winning end, you have to celebrate such a historic night, but then try to keep everything even-keeled?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, well, you celebrate, but you don't celebrate long. I mean, like I said last night, it's a daily game. They hit five home runs off us, beat us 7-0 the night before. And then last night was our night. So this is a new night. I'm just glad that we won last night to have a new night.

Q. What was more of a critical thing to accomplish last night and what did you hold more dear, the rally and seeing the hits one after another or that no-hitter? Historic.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I'll take it the way it came in that order. I'll take a pack of hits, consecutive hits, and then the no-hitter because you can be throwing a no-hitter and lose, which I've seen.

So you got to -- I'll take the hits when you can, especially when we were having trouble getting them. So there's nothing better than a rally. And like the old saying, guys say, keep the line moving. In modern baseball, unless there's a couple walks in there, usually you don't see a string of three or four hits in a row to score runs without a home run in there somewhere.

Q. You've had a lot of experience in postseasons. How much do you think home field advantage really does matter? Does it matter or not?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I think it matters.

Q. How so?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think it matters because you got the home crowd, you're familiar with your surroundings, you're familiar with the caroms, you're familiar with the playing surface, and you get to sleep in your on bed. How come most teams don't play as well on the road as they do at home? There's got to be a reason. You don't have to eat in restaurants. You can eat at home or your favorite restaurant. There's a lot of positives.

Most of the time you have your kids telling you after you struck out three or four times that, Dad, it's going to be okay. I mean, all that matters. If you got a dog, he don't care if you struck out three or four times.

But you're on the road and, you know, things bother you a whole lot more on the road than they do at home.

Q. Just about your guys home, Minute Maid Park, you've managed there a long time. It's one of the quirkier fields. What do you remember the first time you saw it when you were a manager? What was your first reaction to this new place?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, yeah, the first time I saw it, I think we went there right after the Cincinnati Reds, I think were in there and they had hit six or seven home runs up in the Crawford Boxes up there. And then they had the flag pole in center field and the hill and that was, I'm glad they took that out.

Q. You were here for the Roy Halladay no-hitter. I'm wonder if you remember how that affected your clubhouse and if there was carryover the rest of that series for you guys?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, we ended up losing. They ended up going to the World Series. So, I mean, they were a better team than us. I mean, they had a hell of a team and a hell of a pitching staff. You're facing Halladay, and then you got to face -- oh, yeah, Cliff Lee was nasty. And Jimmy Rollins and Utley and the guys that they had over there.

So I don't really remember. All I remember is that that game, I think it was two minutes and -- I mean, two hours and 34 minutes and 30 minutes worth of commercials, so the whole game was about two hours.

Q. How much credit do you give to Christian Vázquez for last night?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I don't think catchers get enough credit, period, for directing, guiding the pitchers through the game. Everybody talks about what a great job the pitcher did, but most of the time in games like this the pitcher doesn't shake off much, or he shakes off very few.

I give Christian a lot of credit for game calling, keeping the momentum and the tempo going during the game. Yeah, so I always give my -- you don't know me, but I always give my catchers a lot of credit for directing the pitchers through the game.

Q. You got home from last night's game. You woke up this morning. Did you have a moment where you just thought, we were part of a no-hitter in the World Series, that was really cool?

DUSTY BAKER: Not really. I mean, I thought it last night, but then I thought this morning, you know, game planning, how we going to win this game because you can't, I mean, that game got to be left behind just like we left that 7-0 game and five home runs behind.

But last night, I mean, it was a momentous joyous night for our side. But, no, I just thought about how we're going to win this game today.

Q. I feel like a big part of the strategic element of the series has been the left-hander through Yordan, Bregman, and Tucker. And last night Bregman finally made him pay for that trying to get a left-hander through those three guys. So I was curious if you felt like that was pivotal as well. The second part is, Bregman's actually hit right-handers better than he hit left-handers this season. Which goes against his career numbers. Wondering what you've seen out of like the way he's being approached, pitched, or whatever that has led to that shift for him?

DUSTY BAKER: Well sometimes you have years like that. They got a couple guys over there that are hitting right-handers better than left-handers too. I've always said that more left-handers can get right- and left-handers out than right-handers can get left- and right-handers out.

I mean the ball's always moving. You got to take your singles and doubles to the opposite field because the ball's moving. They're peeling the banana on you sort of, down and in and down and away. And so they're not that easy to -- left-handers hit 'em out of the park.

When I was playing, I mean, I would get a lot of hits to right field off of righties. But a right-hander is going to come up and in, he's going to hang a curveball. I always thought it was easier to hit a home run off a right-hander than really off a left-hander.

Some guys just love right-handers, I mean, left-handers. But those that do love left-handers generally don't hit right-handers that well.

Q. When is the earliest Javier would be available to pitch again?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. It wouldn't be tonight. It wouldn't be tomorrow. It wouldn't be the next day. So probably Game 7.

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