Astros manager Hinch says every game feels 'critical'
"Every game feels like a game five or game seven" for the Houston Astros and manager A.J. Hinch.
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch knows just how vital games are becoming in the World Series after his team's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Astros entered Saturday's game four a perfect 7-0 at home this postseason, but Cody Bellinger and the Dodgers finally ended their dominance.
Bellinger collected two late doubles to propel the Dodgers to a 6-2 win, evening the series at 2-2. Hinch realised after the loss that game five will be crucial.
"They're two pretty good teams. I don't think that's overstating anything. So it probably doesn't surprise a ton of people that it's 2-2," Hinch said after the game, via MLB.com.
"How the games have gone, where we've won or where they've won can always be debated. These are big games. Every game feels like a game five or game seven, a critical game.
"You don't ever roll into a game thinking that you can get away with losing it. So obviously it's the best of three now, and two of them will be at their place, one will be at our place. I never really thought about winning three in a row; I worried about winning today. If we had won today, I would have been looking forward to winning three in a row."
Hinch met on the mound with game four starting pitcher Charlie Morton before pulling him with one earned run and seven strikeouts through 6.1 innings. Hinch said he never thought about leaving Morton in the game at that point.
"No, there wasn't a chance. I was taking him out of the game," Hinch said. "What I was telling him was that he'd done enough to be done for the night. We'd really liked the [Yasiel] Puig-[Will] Harris matchup; [Harris] came in and got the fly ball. And with [Logan] Forsythe, Harris gave up the base hit.
"But Charlie had done his job. He'd had a little trouble in the sixth, and then obviously was misfiring a little bit in the seventh. In these type of games when it doesn't work out, you obviously look the out at what could have been. Charlie hadn't pitched that deep into the games much of the season and done his job, that's what I was telling him."
Tip of the cap to Chuck, who struck out seven across 6 1/3 IP. pic.twitter.com/H4MutSifuz— Houston Astros (@astros) October 29, 2017
Astros closer Ken Giles allowed three earned runs in the ninth inning, exiting the game before recording an out. Giles pitched great during the regular season, but he has not been able to find consistent form this postseason.
"Obviously it builds in the postseason because there's so much attention on these outs. And when you're a back-end reliever, oftentimes – unless you're extraordinarily dominant, you're only talked about when you suffer, when you struggle," Hinch said of Giles. "So for him, he can handle it mentally, he can handle it physically. He'd been pretty good in that group.
"He hadn't faced those guys a ton, but they didn't have good swings against him in LA. One ground-ball base hit to start the inning and things sort of sped up on him a little bit, the walk after that. So clearly he's trying to push through the adversity that he's had. But to be a back-end reliever you've got to live on that edge of not carrying too long of a memory because of the things that can happen at the back of the game.
"But you have your ball in your hands at the most critical times because you have the best stuff. He can get outs, and he'll continue to get outs, but it's been tough on him."