THE MODERATOR: Any questions for Ned?
Q. Ned, over the last four starts, what was the key for you to Johnny Cueto's turnaround?
NED YOST: Just I think it was more he was executing pitches better. When he first got here, he was really, really, really good. Then went through a little bit of an adjustment period, I think. Finally got settled in with Sal, him and Sal got on the same page, and I think Johnny got back to being Johnny.
Q. Ned, obviously, they can -- they've got a tough lineup one through nine. But their one-two-three, it seemed as if allowed the team to exhale there in the first inning. How important is setting the tone early against the top of that lineup?
NED YOST: Well, it's important. Especially in the first inning of a ball game, you know the excitement's going to be there. You know that it takes a starting pitcher an inning to get tempo, to get his timing, to get his delivery down.
But it's important to score first. It's always kind of a psychological boost if you score first.
But our guys, after they scored two runs last night, they felt like they could come in and do the same thing. So you just go play the game.
Q. Ned, last night after the game, the guys all expressed confidence. I assume you know they're a confident bunch. How can you tell? What are you looking for to know that they're ready for this big of a game?
NED YOST: Look in their eyes. You know they're confident. They're loose. They're not uptight. They trust their abilities. I've been with them long enough to know. When they're tight, they're not tight, they're not pressing, they're confident in their abilities.
MODERATOR: A few more for Ned?
NED YOST: Bam, I'm outta here.
Q. I have a question.
NED YOST: Come on, who is it?
Q. You've been really good, it seems like there's times where you wake up and you say, I woke up this morning and had a great feeling, and you guys always seem to win that day.
NED YOST: I went to bed feeling good. I always feel good about this group, you know. You kind of -- it gets a little hectic in these types of things outside the locker room. You know that there's a five-game series. You've got to win three games. That's all it is. Doesn't matter if you lose the first game. Your goal is still the same. You've got to win three games.
So, okay, we lost last night. We come in and win today. And that's always been our attitude. So we're going to go about it the same way and hopefully have a better result.
Q. Ned, last night, the roles seemed reversed. They were hitting in the clutch. You guys were hitting deep. What's the key in switching that back not just on the scoreboard but the style of play?
NED YOST: There's no key. You've got to execute. I can't get them, say, hey, come on, boys, those pitches on the black, we've got to hit base hits with those, all right? Let's not pop those up. No. It's all about execution.
And they executed last night, and we didn't. So they executed pitches, we didn't. Yordano came out in the first inning, and it's a group that is really good in the strike zone. Even though you've got dominant stuff, he was just starting to get the feel of his curveball when it started raining. But the damage was done on two curveballs up in the zone.
And a fastball kind of up out over the plate. But it's all about execution. Offensively, defensively, and as a pitching staff. You have to go out and execute your game plan in order for it to work. And if you do, you're going to be right in the middle of the game.
Q. Forgive me if this is kind of dopey, but a lot of the players were talking after the game about how sort of frustrated they were with Houston's positioning, seemed like they were always where the ball was going to be. When a team is that precise with their shifts and stuff like that, should the offensive approach change at all?
NED YOST: No. No, you can't change it. I mean, you can -- I mean, like Mous has done a good job this year of adjusting his style. You know? But more than anything else in these games is you can't try to do more than you're capable of doing. All right? You can't go up there trying to hit homers.
You look at Altuve last night in the second inning. They got a run on second base and Ventura throws him a really good fastball up out over the plate, and, boom, he just hits a line drive to right field.
That's what you need to do. You need to understand what the situation is: What do I need to do to try to make this thing work? And go up and not try to do too much in these situations and just put -- get runners on and get runners in.
Q. Ned, there are a couple of teams now in baseball that when they win games, they kind of turn their clubhouse into some sort of club, is the best way to put it, with the lights and the smoke machines and all that stuff. When you guys win, what do you guys do?
NED YOST: Same thing. We got the smoke machine going, music's blaring and everybody's dancing up and down and throwing water on each other. It's kind of fun. Shields brought that in a couple years ago, and I think -- I don't know if it came from Maddon, when he was in Tampa. I know the Cubs are doing the same thing now.
But it's fun to celebrate. It's hard to win at the Big League level, it really is. So when you can accomplish that, it's fun to celebrate it for a little while. And our celebrations don't go on long. They last probably five minutes, seven minutes. It's not like disco dancing for a half hour in there after the game.
But it is fun. The guys get together and they celebrate. They nominate a Player of the Game, and it's just -- like I said, it's hard to win. And when you do, it's fun to celebrate it for a little while.
THE MODERATOR: Ned, thanks very much. Good luck today.