Astros manager A.J. Hinch discusses the emotional win in Game 4 of the ALDS and what it means for his team and the city of Houston
Q. What are your emotions right now? It's been along journey, the next step?
A.J. HINCH: I'm exhausted. Those are my emotions. This is a hard fought, a lot of moving parts type series, where they're not easy outs over there. So trying to matchup with those guys, trying to win in this ballpark was tough. But we're thrilled to advance and that's what we came out to do. When we had the 2-0 lead, you got to be careful not to assume too much. We brought our bags to the ballpark today because we were going back to Houston one way or the other. We're happy to go back as the division series champions, but there was nothing assumed here. We knew we were going to have to face some of their best pitching to get to the finish line and we ended up beating them. You give them a one-run lead and you have Chris Sale handing the ball to Craig Kimbrel, more times than not, it's an uphill battle. But our guys fought.
A.J. HINCH: I think that it's the steady approach that our guys have been able to maintain. We got a ton of energy, we got a ton of athleticism and we have a lot of different players that are in different parts of their career. We got some young guys that are just getting here who came up huge. Alex Bregman's home run. We got guys here who have been here and had the lean years and really are enjoying being on good teams. Altuve, Keuchel. And then you have some veterans with Beltran, and McCann, and Reddick, Charlie Morton signed here. To see that all come together into one of the closes knit teams that I've ever been on or been around, I'm very proud as the manager because they represent the Astros, they represent the city of Houston, ultimately me as their manager. You walk into that room every day and you're happy to be there. And that's a definite responsibility of the players to create that chemistry that everybody feels.
Q. So they have Chris Sale in there and he's going good and you're down, you're in a close game, what's the dugout like? What's the tension level?
A.J. HINCH: It wasn't really tense as much as it was just grinding. You're out there trying to find any semblance of an opportunity and you try not to think back to the first and the second. We had Porcello on the ropes a couple times. He got a couple big punch-outs. We had Sale a couple times, guys on base, we couldn't quite create anything. So there wasn't any tension. Our team's never tense. There was dancing going on, there was yelling going on. We're a loose, loose team by nature, and our guys stayed that way. We were just, stay after him, stay after him, stay after him, and someone was going to come up with a big hit. Happened to be Bregman to tie it, and then those at-bats in the 8th, the at-bat by Beltran in the 9th. It's been a consistent characteristic of our team to keep fighting, and today we needed it.
Q. Rooting for the Yankees now?
A.J. HINCH: I don't really root for anybody. I root for the Astros, so we'll play anybody that advances.
Q. From a manager's perspective how tough are these decisions to pull the starters? And two straight days, Liriano and Verlander, what's that like, your personal journey today?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, no, it's, managers, we're judged on results, but yet we work on process. We're prepared, we want to put our guys in a position to be successful. When they're successful it's the proud, the proud father moment. When they're not successful you take all the blame. But the one thing I try to make sure that I do for me is, you can lose playing conservatively, too. It's very easy to go to the bullpen and leave Justin Verlander out of it. But our job's to try to win, it's not to try not to lose. And we had an opportunity to do that, when it doesn't work out, as long as I'm prepared, as long as I feel like I did the right thing by what our plan was, then I can live with the result. Doesn't make you feel any better when Benintendi's running around the bases, that's a pretty low moment for a manager, probably just under the pitcher. But I'm proud of the fight that these guys have and, quite honestly, it's just a staple of who we are.
Q. You guys seem to have changed coming home from Tampa, the hurricane, Verlander, Correa, all that, you've just been a different team since then. Do you agree with that?
A.J. HINCH: Well I agree with it in the sense that, where we were in the season, that the focus shifts a little bit. We would never assume that we were going to win the division until we won it. But there was a sight line in line. We had 10 or 11, 12, 15-game lead whatever it was, with 30 days to play, you start to sense that moment where you're going to clinch. And then the postseason. And so our guys collected ourselves. The Justin Verlander trade and the Carlos Correa getting healthy are two major acquisitions at a time where we needed it. And so we weren't really a different team as much as we started to focus on the right things.
Q. What you did for the city, and what the city did for you.
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, the city, the city of Houston is still rebuilding and it's easy for us to look in the rearview mirror and think that the hurricane is over and the rebuild starts and is not going to stop for a long time. So our -- we're proud to wear our patch -- I don't have it on this T-shirt -- but we're proud to wear that Houston Strong patch, it was very emotional, probably the most emotions I've ever had on a field the day we played the double header, when you had our city under water and some fans that came out. And then we want to win, we want to win for them, we want to win for us we want to win because we showed up in spring training to try to win a World Series.
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