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Oct. 19 Justin Verlander ALCS off-day interview

MLB.com

Q. What is your mindset going into this start, probably a big one for you, the biggest game you've played in a long time?
 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, obviously I know it's a huge game. There's no shying away from that fact.

So my game plan is to go out there, and as the cliché goes, give it everything I've got. I'm just going to focus on trying to execute my pitches, trying not to let the moment get to me, just focus on the task at hand.

Q. How much does your success in the past help you in these situations and what does it mean to you to be able to come in a situation and give this team a lift?

 

Q. What is your mindset going into this start, probably a big one for you, the biggest game you've played in a long time?
 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, obviously I know it's a huge game. There's no shying away from that fact.

So my game plan is to go out there, and as the cliché goes, give it everything I've got. I'm just going to focus on trying to execute my pitches, trying not to let the moment get to me, just focus on the task at hand.

Q. How much does your success in the past help you in these situations and what does it mean to you to be able to come in a situation and give this team a lift?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: I can draw from my success in past situations, but it means nothing for tomorrow. I think each start is a new start. And I think that's why we as athletes, you get nervous, anxious, all those feelings because it's the fear of the unknown. I don't know if I'll be as sharp as I was last time or the last time I pitched in a clinching game or a possible season ending. You just don't know, and that's what's fun about this.

I think I do everything I possibly can to be prepared and be as sharp as I possibly can. But you just won't know until the game is over.

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Q. How about giving this team a lift in this situation?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Obviously I know this is one of the main reasons I was brought here. I think so far I've done what they've asked or what they've needed of me to help the rotation and help get deep in the playoffs.

This is obviously the biggest game for the Astros up to this point for this season. The expectations are there. My teammates, I'm sure, are expecting a lot of me. And I expect a lot of myself. So this is why we play the game. And I love these opportunities to pitch in these atmospheres, these type of games. It should be a lot of fun.

Q. It seemed like the second time the Yankees saw Dallas in a week's time, they were able to adjust. I wonder if you'll make any adjustments.

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: I can't tell you that.

I'm sure there will be some adjustments, yes. I think as any pitcher you don't want the team, if you're going at the same team twice in a row, you don't want them to see the exact same guy or same game plan, so there will probably be some adjustments on my end.

But also I have to trust my instincts and what my eyes tell me more than anything. Having that experience in my career and having played this game for so long you can go out there with all the scripted game plan that you want but sometimes what my eyes tell me, what my instincts tell me is totally different. So that's what I rely on mostly.

Q. You've been through this so many times in these situations, you've watched the playoffs ebb and flow. Is it crazy the last time you were here, just kind of shows how fast the playoffs can swing, even on a seven-game series?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Absolutely. It can happen in a hurry. It's crazy. And that's why we love this. Obviously I don't necessarily love coming back down a game. I would have liked it to be the other way around, at least. Hey, that's the game.

This is an exciting series with two great teams kind of going at it. Obviously home-field advantage has been huge to this point. Hopefully we can keep it going. You talk about momentum, if we're able to win the game tomorrow, I think that switches back to our side where we're having a Game 7 in our park.

Q. You went 124 pitches. It's been a long season, high-stress pitches. Just curious whether the routine between starts going into this one, you back off a little bit, just because it's late in the season and you had a pretty onerous workload the last time?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Honestly, no. I kind of step on the gas. I feel as good now as I felt all year. I think just stick to my routine. This is what we work so hard for. My workout regimen in the offseason, my throwing regimen, my shoulder regimen in season, all that stuff, this is when it pays off the most.

I feel like I have an advantage knowing my routine so well and knowing how I can keep myself fresh, even this late into the season. I came out of that start better than almost any I have all year.

Q. You said this is one of the main reasons they brought me here. Isn't this one of the main reasons you said yes to coming here?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yes, it is. To have these opportunities in baseball, I think early in my career I took a lot of things for granted how talented we were and how we went to the playoffs very often. And you almost think it's just easy and it will always be that way. I've learned that that's obviously not the case.

We had a guy, Sean Casey, joined our team when I was a rookie, and I was so shocked when he told me his whole career he'd never been in the playoffs, not even in the playoffs at all. That really surprised me. I always remember him saying that. I try to keep that fresh in my head to know this is something special. Not every Major League Baseball player gets to experience the playoffs or go on a deep run.

Yes, to answer the question, this is why I'm here.

Q. You mentioned earlier how the series flipped in a hurry once it went to New York. You watched the momentum turn the Yankees' way. But do you feel like you can stop that momentum? I can do that? I think I'm the guy that can stop it?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, you have to think that way. If I was thinking the other way I'd already be defeated. So, of course, I do. I think everybody on this team should be thinking that way. And be prepared to -- we know we're going to have a fight on our hands. Hopefully the first step is to win tomorrow. And if that happens then everything changes.

Q. Being a student of the game that you are, how would you describe what happened the last three days? Was it mostly the stadium? And how do you turn it around?

 

JUSTIN VERLANDER: The stadium has some affect, yeah. Their fans were great. That's why it's called home-field advantage. I think we had a couple of opportunities to win a game, it just didn't happen. That's the game of baseball.

The second game there, they did a great job of getting back and winning that game. I think that was a big difference maker for them. And the rest of it is, it is what it is. We lost baseball games. There are some good games. There was a blowout. But I can't really put a finger on it.

I know that their crowd was really into it. And those big moments when they're cheering with every two-strike count, that has an effect on players, of course, so I'm sure that had something to do with it.