A.J. HINCH: That was a tough one. None of those are easy, and we could have gone a couple different ways. So I went out there for a couple of reasons.
One, you know, I've done that a couple of times this year to check the heartbeat, look in his eyes a little bit. Obviously gather a little bit of information when I'm out there.
And with Dallas, it's never easy to take the ball away from him. You always feel like he's under control. Even as the game went on, he was getting better and better. I thought early on he was a little bit erratic.
In that last inning, he made a bad pitch to Beltran, and that was really it. So when I went out there, I told him you know, he was the best guy we have, and he needed to end the inning. It was his guy to get. And I wanted him to finish strong. I actually told him to get the ball on the ground. That would have made me feel a little bit better.
But getting that out was the most important out certainly up to that point. Tough matchup against a good hitter, who he's had success against.
So I had a lot of faith and trust in Dallas. I'm sure other managers will tell you, take the ball out of your best guy's hand is one of the more challenging things in this job.
Q. A.J., what did you see from Carlos tonight, both on the home run? Carlos Gomez, and the struggling he seemed to have in the subsequent at-bat. Just what did you expect from him and how did you see him weather --
A.J. HINCH: I expected him to impact the game positively. That's why we played him. That's why we waited to play him at this stage.
I don't think anyone would have predicted a home run. I knew he would to run down some balls. He was going to make a throw or two. But for him he gave us everything he had. He's not 100 percent.
But he came up big in the biggest moments, and as the game wore on and I know things didn't look great in his next at-bat where he takes a swing and he grimaces a little bit. I went out to talk to him on the field.
He doesn't want to come out of the game. He just needed to catch his breath but I wasn't going to let him hit again. I think we're playing a very delicate game here with him and his health. He had given us all he could up to that point. I wasn't going to put him in harm's way again.
Having Jake Marisnick on the bench helps because I have another exceptional center fielder, but I was really proud how he gutted it out. Not many people know what intercostal strains feel like but they hurt. And they're not good, especially in our sport where you're on the move and different angles all the time. But what a performance.
Q. How impressive was Dallas' performance considering he's on three days' rest and pitched scoreless innings?
A.J. HINCH: I think a couple of things play in that. Number one, the intensity of the pitches are different in the playoffs. We're learning that, a lot of our guys are.
Obviously some of the veteran guys have been here. But on this stage, in this environment, this much intensity, all eyes on our team, win or go home, I think the performance is second to none this year. I don't think he was actually at his best. And to say that after six innings scoreless, and what, three or four hits, whatever he gave up, it's pretty remarkable. He's usually much more pitch-efficient but he found ways to get his outs and finish hitters.
The way he finished at-bats was vintage Dallas Keuchel. But at that point I felt like he had enough and did everything that we would have asked on three days' rest with this much intensity in a game of this magnitude.
Q. The slide by Gregorius, what did you think about that? And how is Altuve? Is he okay?
A.J. HINCH: He's okay. Altuve keeps hitting the ball off his left foot. This is probably about three or four times in the last couple of games. So he's not feeling particularly wonderful. But I think two-out, RBI hits will make him feel better. But the slide was fine.
I think at this intensity of games you're trying to do everything you can to break things up. I think where the play is, it's very awkward, because the second baseman's back's turned. Altuve is bare-handing the ball and all Gregorius is trying to do is get to the next base.
It's unfortunate when the game kind of leads you to some awkward positioning. But I thought it was a good, hard play, and we came out of it okay.
Q. You talked going in about how your guys would handle this environment. Seemed like obviously they did. How much of that do you think was just Dallas and how much of that was the players, other players you had?
A.J. HINCH: I think a couple of things. I think Dallas getting through the early part of the game putting zeros up I think is always nice. Colby Rasmus' home run, I think, everyone exhaled. You saw a lot of what's right about Astros baseball. We homered, we stole a few bases that came up key. We got a two-out hit from Altuve. We got gutsy pitching out of Keuchel and our bullpen, and we had some big plays on defense. I think that's what we do when we're at our best. And as I've said before our best is good enough. It was good enough tonight and we advanced.
Q. What was the conversation with Keuchel, before A-Rod's at-bat and were you thinking about it?
A.J. HINCH: No, I walked out there to gauge the room temperature a little bit. And with Dallas he's cool, calm, collected all the time.
I wanted him to finish that at-bat. I got another issue on the back end of that, McCann's coming. And so I had both righty and lefty up. But as you're walking out there, that's probably the most adrenalin I've had in this chair in my short managerial career, because you're at Yankee Stadium, it's the sixth inning and Alex Rodriguez and you have potentially the Cy Young Award winner on the mound. So what a great moment, and I'm really happy that it turned out in our favor for everyone involved because those are the moments, those swing moments where the players have to play and Dallas stepped up big specifically in that event.