ALCS Game 6: Verlander postgame interview

October 21st, 2017

Q. You reacted so strongly to George's catch. Off the bat what did you think?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I thought homer. Especially the way the balls have been flying this postseason, really all year. We don't need to get into that. He hit it well. It was a nice adjustment that he made. It looked to me, from my eyes, that he sat on the curveball first pitch, put a really good swing on it, fouled it back, and immediately switched to the fastball. That's not easy to do as a hitter to be that good at making adjustments on such a variance of speed so quickly. Put a great swing on a fastball. I threw where I wanted. I was trying to go up and away there. I haven't seen the replays, but I know it was elevated. And, man, watching the outfield, all you can do as a pitcher is watch the outfielder track it and track it and track it, and then most of the time when they go to jump it's like -- and he was able to reel it in and keep it inside the yard. So that was obviously one of the big turning moments in the game.
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Q. Your fourth straight elimination game you've won over your career. Do you prepare or think any differently to these type of games?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't think you prepare or think any differently. I just know that there's an element of -- I don't really even know how to explain it. The best way for me to explain it is multiple times throughout the game I forget what inning we're in, what's going on around me. My only focus is to execute pitch by pitch. I won't even remember what batter is coming up. My sole focus is focusing on executing my pitches when I want to execute them. But other than that, there's no more prep or anything, no.
Q. In Game 2 obviously you go to nine, you guys get the victory, A.J. said at the very end you empty the tank a little, you were trying to do as much as you could to stay out there. What was the mentality in the last couple of innings to give that team as much as you could to make sure they got to Game 7?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: There's no point in saving anything. And I think that's, again, why you can -- I talked about forgetting what inning it is and not knowing where we are at in the game, how many pitches I have or who's up. It's just kind of I'm out there until I'm not out there any longer. And so in season you sometimes have, okay, you get deep in the game here, let me try to save some pitches. In a playoff that's out the window, specifically in a 0-0 ballgame in a decisive game. So when it came down to it that 6th and 7th, back-to-back, I mean it really did, it took a lot out of me, especially kind of back-to-back stressful innings like that. And for me, my focus -- when I look back at the 3-2 slider to Hicks was probably the pitch of the game for me. You could look at it and say the 3-0 slider to Sanchez, but there were two outs in that situation. To Hicks, 3-2 there, if I don't execute that and he takes it or, you know, worse, then it's a totally different ballgame.
Q. I'm not sure I asked this to any other pitcher, but are you available tomorrow?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know (laughter). We'll have this conversation tomorrow.

Q. Does it depend on how you feel?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Of course. It depends on how I feel tomorrow. I think this has been a team all year long that has ridden the backbone of all its starters and bullpens. I don't think it's something where I have to be out there. But I'll talk to A.J. When I first got here A.J. pulled me in his office and we had a candid conversation. And I told him I'd be honest with him how I felt. And that will not change going into Game 7. I'll be very honest with him about how my arm feels and how my body feels.
Q. You've been with the Astros for 50 days or so. Is it amazing to think how much this city has accepted you, the fan base? It feels like you've been on the team for years now with everything that's happened since you joined the team August 31st.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yes, it's pretty amazing to me how quickly these fans have bonded to me. And vice versa. I feel it, I appreciate it, especially on the field. But around town, everybody is just wishing good luck. A fresh face, people -- a lot of times in new cities, if they're not baseball fans they might not recognize me. But it seems like a lot of people here, they're involved and they want this team to win and they always come up and give me their blessing and want me to know they care, and that means a lot.
Q. The eighth inning in the dugout, to see the offense get going, you see the guys relax and have some fun again, with all the pressure that's been put on the offense after the struggles in New York.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I wasn't in the dugout. But I know that this offense is just a monster. It's a sleeping giant. And we had an unfortunate time to fall into a bit of a slump as a team. But there was no question these guys were going to break out, it was just a matter of time. Thankfully that wasn't next year. They got it going here tonight, which is a good sign. Once these guys start swinging the bat it's impressive to watch. When they're confident, 1 through 9, one of the best lineups in all of baseball, if not the best.