HOUSTON -- Things suddenly and dramatically look promising for the Astros, who will send Justin Verlander to the mound on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Fall Classic at Dodger Stadium with a chance for Houston to claim its first World Series championship.The Astros will have a day off
HOUSTON -- Things suddenly and dramatically look promising for the Astros, who will send Justin Verlander to the mound on Tuesday night in Game 6 of the Fall Classic at Dodger Stadium with a chance for Houston to claim its first World Series championship.
The Astros will have a day off Monday to recuperate from Sunday's epic Game 5 win over the Dodgers at Minute Maid Park, in which they rallied from deficits of 4-0, 7-4 and 8-7 and then blew a 12-9 lead in the ninth inning before winning, 13-12, in the 10th on Alex Bregman's walk-off single.
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The biggest win in Astros history, which gives them a 3-2 Series lead, now gives way to the biggest game in club history. Since 1985, a team heading on the road with a 3-2 lead for Games 6 and 7 in a seven-game postseason series has won the series half the time (14 of 28). But road teams are 2-14 in Game 7 after losing Game 6.
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"We're up, 3-2, and the Series is not even close to being over," Astros catcher Brian McCann said. "We've got to get ready for Game 6. We're going to enjoy this win tonight and then turn the page and get ready."
Verlander is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in four starts and one relief appearance this postseason. He allowed two hits, both homers, and three runs in six innings in the Astros' Game 2 win over the Dodgers. Verlander is 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) since an Aug. 31 trade from the Tigers that has changed Houston's baseball fortunes.
"It's got to be at its all-time high," reliever Chris Devenski said when asked how much confidence the Astros have with Verlander on the mound. "One more to go. Let's do it."
The Astros aren't getting complacent, though. They don't have to go too far back in their memories to recall the last time a team blew a 3-2 lead by losing a pair of games on the road. The Yankees did just that in this year's American League Championship Series, losing Games 6 and 7 to the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"It's still a one-game season," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're going to walk in and try to win Game 6. We've got Verlander going. Coming off this big win, our team is pretty good at building off this type of momentum. It's a singular focus on trying to win the next game. For our guys, we know what's at stake."
The Astros, who began play as the expansion Colt .45s in 1962 and were renamed the Astros when they moved into the Astrodome in 1965, had never won a World Series game prior to this year. They lost Game 1, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium and were trailing, 3-1, heading into the eighth inning in Game 2 before five late homers turned the momentum of the Series.
After winning Game 3, Houston squandered Game 4 in the ninth inning, setting the stage for an unforgettable Game 5 that left both teams exhausted.
"We have one more victory," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said. "But we're still very humble about that. We also know who we're playing. You have to play for every single inning to beat the Dodgers. We've beat them in L.A. We've got to do it again."
Altuve's laser focus is a credit to how grounded Hinch has kept his club throughout the entire season. Knowing they're one win away from a World Series championship doesn't alter that.
"Our approach doesn't really change," Hinch said.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.