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ALCS Game 7: Justin Verlander postgame interview

MLB.com

Q. I wanted to address this question to A.J. Hinch, but they told me I need to address it to you. Any recognition or any merit that Jeff Luhnow has on this team?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Great question. I think that Jeff's fingerprints are all over this team. I think he's done a fantastic job building an organization from the ground up. I think he got a lot of flak early in here with the Astros. It wasn't with conventional thinking.

But the proof is in the pudding, here we are. And I couldn't personally be more thankful for him bringing me here to be in this situation.

Q. You knew this was the end goal you wanted to get to the World Series, and eventually win that. But to be here, to win a Game 7 in a dramatic series, what does it feel like to see that come full circle?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It feels great. There's no other way to put it. It's so easy to say, yeah, we want to win the World Series. I've been very fortunate my entire career to feel like I had a team we had a chance to win a World Series. I've only been there twice and that's over 12-plus years.



It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for. These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series.

It's a special bond that you create with that team and that city. It's really special for me to be a part of that and to be a part of that so quickly. I think I've been here for, somebody said like 50 days now. So to feel this bonded to a team and a city that quickly I think is something special.

Q. What was it like being part of this group? What did you learn about the group as you became part of the team? And the other thing, what was yesterday like knowing the momentum was slipping, it was an elimination game? What was that whole day like for you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: What was the first question?

Q. Being part of this group.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Being part of this group. So from top to bottom, from ownership down to every single member of this organization and every single teammate, immediately welcomed me, and not just -- it wasn't like, "Hey, glad to have you." It was a different type of feeling. I felt like I bonded with every single person on this team almost immediately. For many different reasons.

I think a lot of the pitchers I've really enjoyed talking to a lot of them, just kind of picking my brain, me picking their brain. And then the position players, man, it's something special to see these guys play.

I made a point to let them know that. I've competed against these guys a few times and I know how good they are. To be on this side of the fence is a nice feeling.

And the second one?

Q. What was yesterday like, after a tough three days in New York?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yesterday was one of the best moments of my career, plain and simple. To come back home after being on the road, and to be able to keep these guys off the board for seven innings and be able to come away the winning pitcher. When you're in the backyard as a kid, I know it wasn't Game 7, but it's a win-or-go-home game. When you were in the backyard as a kid, always dreaming of being a pitcher, those are the moments that you create in your head.

And to be able to succeed in those moments, I mean, it's the most fulfilling thing you can do.

Q. Can you talk about what you've learned about this team since you've been here in the 50 days? And how good you feel about, especially after what you saw tonight, we all saw tonight, and getting to the next step?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think this team as a whole can win baseball games in so many different ways. And I think we showed so many of those different aspects in just this series. In seven games I think we showed we can win with pitching, hitting, defense, we can win with base running. There's just so many facets to this team that -- you don't win 100-plus games by accident throughout the season. You have to find different ways to win a ballgame.

And although our offense kind of floundered a little bit early in the series, we still managed to win baseball games. And later in the series our bats came alive and we won games with our offense and pitching. It's a dynamic team that can hurt you in a lot of different ways.

Q. You said 50 days an Astro, and 14 years prior to that with the same organization. Is it surreal? Has it fully sunk in?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: To be honest with you, no. I think this is one of the those things it's been such a whirlwind and I've been so focused on just helping this team achieve its ultimate goal, I don't think it's one of those things that will really kind of sink in until probably this offseason.

It's a pretty crazy kind of experience for me and I can't really put into words my emotions. I know at this moment, I know I made the right decision to come to this organization. This is really a good decision.

Q. When you arrived at Minute Maid it was Sept. 2, which was that doubleheader, right after Harvey. And you've helped out. What has it been like to be a part of this? The fans take you in and the team's playing so well going to the World Series, but knowing it's following after that aftermath and what it means to the fans and the entire city of Houston having gone through that hurricane?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I've touched on this before about having the experience of playing into a World Series with a city that kind of needed a boost and something to cheer for. And there's a lot of people that are really hurting right now in this city. And it gives the city something to rally around and gives people something to cheer for that otherwise may not have a lot to be hopeful for.

And to be part of that, no matter how big or small it is, whether you're the MVP or whether you are the last pitcher in the bullpen, that's something that you will never forget, and how this city embraces all of that, I'll never forget. And I'm so grateful for my time back then. And I think it gives me a different sense of what's going on here and now.

And that's why I started what I did with my charity and the Patriot Grant and donated my Playoff share. I know what this can mean. And I want to help in more ways than just playing on the baseball field.

Q. You're going to be the elder statesman that's been to the World Series with a team that's young, and it's going to be the first time that the majority of them experience that. What do you have to do between now and Game 1 in LA to get off of this high, to be ready to play ball?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Nothing, keep the high. I mean, this is -- we played two win-or-go-home games and we won them. I mean, this is -- I've been on the other side of this twice where I was part of the World Series team that had swept and won early and was waiting to see who we were going to play. And the other teams went deep in their series.

This team is playing great baseball. We played our best baseball when our backs were against the wall. And I think when you're battle tested coming into the last series, I think you just try to maintain that feeling.

Q. You're a pitcher on the staff who has faced the Dodgers this year. In fact, you beat them when they were in the middle of that epic run. What do you remember about that team? What do you take into the World Series going against them?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, I remember feeling good that day. I think I'll probably look a little more into it, obviously. I remember Bellinger wasn't in the lineup. So there are things that will be different. And obviously this is a completely different situation, being a World Series game, as opposed to a midseason matchup.

To be honest with you, I'm not going to take a lot into that game.

Q. I wanted to address this question to A.J. Hinch, but they told me I need to address it to you. Any recognition or any merit that Jeff Luhnow has on this team?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Great question. I think that Jeff's fingerprints are all over this team. I think he's done a fantastic job building an organization from the ground up. I think he got a lot of flak early in here with the Astros. It wasn't with conventional thinking.

But the proof is in the pudding, here we are. And I couldn't personally be more thankful for him bringing me here to be in this situation.

Q. You knew this was the end goal you wanted to get to the World Series, and eventually win that. But to be here, to win a Game 7 in a dramatic series, what does it feel like to see that come full circle?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It feels great. There's no other way to put it. It's so easy to say, yeah, we want to win the World Series. I've been very fortunate my entire career to feel like I had a team we had a chance to win a World Series. I've only been there twice and that's over 12-plus years.

:: ALCS schedule and coverage ::

It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for. These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series.

It's a special bond that you create with that team and that city. It's really special for me to be a part of that and to be a part of that so quickly. I think I've been here for, somebody said like 50 days now. So to feel this bonded to a team and a city that quickly I think is something special.

Q. What was it like being part of this group? What did you learn about the group as you became part of the team? And the other thing, what was yesterday like knowing the momentum was slipping, it was an elimination game? What was that whole day like for you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: What was the first question?

Q. Being part of this group.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Being part of this group. So from top to bottom, from ownership down to every single member of this organization and every single teammate, immediately welcomed me, and not just -- it wasn't like, "Hey, glad to have you." It was a different type of feeling. I felt like I bonded with every single person on this team almost immediately. For many different reasons.

I think a lot of the pitchers I've really enjoyed talking to a lot of them, just kind of picking my brain, me picking their brain. And then the position players, man, it's something special to see these guys play.

I made a point to let them know that. I've competed against these guys a few times and I know how good they are. To be on this side of the fence is a nice feeling.

And the second one?

Q. What was yesterday like, after a tough three days in New York?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yesterday was one of the best moments of my career, plain and simple. To come back home after being on the road, and to be able to keep these guys off the board for seven innings and be able to come away the winning pitcher. When you're in the backyard as a kid, I know it wasn't Game 7, but it's a win-or-go-home game. When you were in the backyard as a kid, always dreaming of being a pitcher, those are the moments that you create in your head.

And to be able to succeed in those moments, I mean, it's the most fulfilling thing you can do.

Q. Can you talk about what you've learned about this team since you've been here in the 50 days? And how good you feel about, especially after what you saw tonight, we all saw tonight, and getting to the next step?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think this team as a whole can win baseball games in so many different ways. And I think we showed so many of those different aspects in just this series. In seven games I think we showed we can win with pitching, hitting, defense, we can win with base running. There's just so many facets to this team that -- you don't win 100-plus games by accident throughout the season. You have to find different ways to win a ballgame.

And although our offense kind of floundered a little bit early in the series, we still managed to win baseball games. And later in the series our bats came alive and we won games with our offense and pitching. It's a dynamic team that can hurt you in a lot of different ways.

Q. You said 50 days an Astro, and 14 years prior to that with the same organization. Is it surreal? Has it fully sunk in?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: To be honest with you, no. I think this is one of the those things it's been such a whirlwind and I've been so focused on just helping this team achieve its ultimate goal, I don't think it's one of those things that will really kind of sink in until probably this offseason.

It's a pretty crazy kind of experience for me and I can't really put into words my emotions. I know at this moment, I know I made the right decision to come to this organization. This is really a good decision.

Q. When you arrived at Minute Maid it was Sept. 2, which was that doubleheader, right after Harvey. And you've helped out. What has it been like to be a part of this? The fans take you in and the team's playing so well going to the World Series, but knowing it's following after that aftermath and what it means to the fans and the entire city of Houston having gone through that hurricane?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I've touched on this before about having the experience of playing into a World Series with a city that kind of needed a boost and something to cheer for. And there's a lot of people that are really hurting right now in this city. And it gives the city something to rally around and gives people something to cheer for that otherwise may not have a lot to be hopeful for.

And to be part of that, no matter how big or small it is, whether you're the MVP or whether you are the last pitcher in the bullpen, that's something that you will never forget, and how this city embraces all of that, I'll never forget. And I'm so grateful for my time back then. And I think it gives me a different sense of what's going on here and now.

And that's why I started what I did with my charity and the Patriot Grant and donated my Playoff share. I know what this can mean. And I want to help in more ways than just playing on the baseball field.

Q. You're going to be the elder statesman that's been to the World Series with a team that's young, and it's going to be the first time that the majority of them experience that. What do you have to do between now and Game 1 in LA to get off of this high, to be ready to play ball?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Nothing, keep the high. I mean, this is -- we played two win-or-go-home games and we won them. I mean, this is -- I've been on the other side of this twice where I was part of the World Series team that had swept and won early and was waiting to see who we were going to play. And the other teams went deep in their series.

This team is playing great baseball. We played our best baseball when our backs were against the wall. And I think when you're battle tested coming into the last series, I think you just try to maintain that feeling.

Q. You're a pitcher on the staff who has faced the Dodgers this year. In fact, you beat them when they were in the middle of that epic run. What do you remember about that team? What do you take into the World Series going against them?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, I remember feeling good that day. I think I'll probably look a little more into it, obviously. I remember Bellinger wasn't in the lineup. So there are things that will be different. And obviously this is a completely different situation, being a World Series game, as opposed to a midseason matchup.

To be honest with you, I'm not going to take a lot into that game.