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November 3, 2022

Dusty Baker

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Citizens Bank Park

Houston Astros

Postgame 5 Press Conference

Houston Astros - 3, Philadelphia Phillies - 2

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for Dusty.

Q. You just heard what PeƱa said about you. What can you say about him and everything he's been able to accomplish this October?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, he came into camp as a young player. He had his eyes open. He always paid attention. You could tell he was very attentive and confident, but quiet. Boy, he's played remarkably well. Boy, I mean, he's really carried us for awhile here through this postseason, and that's especially tough for a young player, a young shortstop. And I'm just glad we have him.

Q. I'll never have to ask you again about Justin Verlander winning in the World Series.

DUSTY BAKER: Thank you.

Q. What did you see from him tonight, especially in the 4th and 5th inning to where you got a couple relievers up, you stuck with him, he kept battling in that 5th inning, especially against Realmuto, 10-pitch at-bat, and that was classic Justin Verlander?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it was battle and that's what he said. He emptied the tank early and his pitch count got high, but that was as far as we thought we should take him. We held the lead for him. He was in trouble there a couple times, and I remember my teammate Tommy John always told me that a good pitcher can get out of trouble twice and a great pitcher three times and a so-so pitcher maybe one time.

So that was a, I could hear Tommy John talking to me during the game. Sometimes you call upon people that you've played with or talked to in the past to deal with the present.

Q. In your opinion, can you talk about how a player like Jeremy PeƱa, a young kid like this, a rookie, is able to get better series after series, game after game? It seems like the pressure does not affect him at all. Can you talk about that a little bit.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, like I talked to him earlier in the year about being ready, especially in a clutch situation and to remain aggressive. And he works at it. He works at his game. What he's done this year was similar to when I saw a young Andruw Jones as a young player with the Braves against the Yankees. Every once in a while these guys come along, not that often, but it just goes to show you, I mean, his future is very, very bright.

Q. How is Yuli Gurriel? And what can you say about the play that Trey Mancini came in and snared there at first base?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, with Trey, that's a tough, that's an extremely tough play. You know you'll probably get the ball from Schwarber, you just don't know which side it's going to be on. Fortunately for us, he was on the bag and he hit the ball extremely hard. I'm glad the ball was fair and he didn't get another shot to swing.

What was your first question?

Q. Gurriel.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, Yuli. Yuli's, his right knee is a little sore because in that rundown play I know he got kneed in the head, and we were afraid that it was his head. But he's day-to-day and we'll, he'll get treatment tomorrow and the next day, and then we'll make a decision on how he is and how he's moving and all that kind of stuff.

Q. Just to be clear, in the 5th with Verlander after Harper's double, you had somebody warming. Were you always going to let Verlander face Castellanos or did you think about pulling him then?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I mean, this guy he's been one of the best of getting out of trouble and, to me, that was his game. Like I've said many times, he's our ace, and it's hard to pull your ace because that's why he's the ace.

Who can you bring in? I mean, we got a great bullpen, but who can you bring in that's better than the guy that's out there in Verlander.

Q. Just to clarify, because you were talking before the game about Justin's legacy a little bit, was there any part of your heart that said, boy, I really hope this guy can get through five innings because I want him to get that win?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, it was in my heart.

Q. Did it factor into your decision?

DUSTY BAKER: Not really, but it was on my mind.

Q. Can you say a little bit more about that play in center field there at the end. That ball looked like it might get out. It looked like he was going to get there. He ended up coming down with it. What you did see?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, first, I would say, oh, no, stay in the park. And then I was saying, man, I hope it's not too high off the wall because that's a double or maybe a triple with Realmuto running and especially tough because we've been trying to play the caroms of the wall here and you don't really know as a visiting team.

I saw him on that inside-the-parker against the Braves. I mean, it takes some funny bounces out there. So I was, McCormick's always bragged about his basketball skills, and so I guess I got to believe him.

Q. I know you usually don't like to get too far ahead of yourself, but being one win away from that illusive managerial title, can you talk about what you feel the biggest key to the success is to get that one more win once you get back to Houston?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, you know, it's the same as almost every day. It's in the hands of the pitcher. However your pitcher pitches it gives you a chance to win the game.

We got some guys that are struggling a little bit and I just know that any minute now some of those guys are going to leave the yard. There's going to be a lot of energy in our park. And, you know, coming in here I know everybody wanted to us sweep, but realistically you win two out of three on the road, and this has been a very, very good team, road team, and a very good getaway day team. We probably led the league in getaway days, and we take pride in that. Today was the biggest getaway day of the year.

Q. Last night I think Chas McCormick shifted to left field in the last inning. Was that every on the table for this game? And how do you feel that we didn't?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, the game was too close. And in a game like that, it's hard to take Yordan out of the game because you play extra innings, his spot could come up two or three times and you don't have anybody that could match his production or potential production, whether he's hitting or not. So, yeah. No, that wasn't in my mind today.

Q. You got a huge five-out save from Ryan Pressly tonight. Could you talk about his performance and particularly that strikeout of Marsh with runners at the corners.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that was huge. Because that's only the second time this year he's had a multi-inning save. And we've been kind of preserving him for this moment. And, yeah, that was a big, big. Because with a sacrifice fly the game's tied. We're in their ballpark. They get the last at-bat. So that was a huge strikeout.

We could tell kind of the way things were going that we might need to call him into action. You hate to have him ready and then sit down and have to get up in the 9th. But we tried to -- he knows how to warm up. He knows when he might be called. And we told him that there's a good chance, before the game started, that he might have to have a four- or five-out save.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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