Oct. 4 Justin Verlander pregame interview
Q. Justin, what were you able to glean from your last two starts last week as far as how your stuff is? I know you've said for a few weeks now that postseason is the deadline between the strikeouts or whatever you saw out of how the hitters were reacting.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: That's what you talk about, how hitters are reacting, and it comes down to execution. I definitely felt like the executions I made helped me to pitch better endgame, and I've been working hard on figuring stuff out, tweaking stuff here and there because I knew I wasn't right. And I felt like the last couple, I was able to get to a point where I didn't have to think about anything out there on the mound except for execution and that let me clear my mind.
And obviously the game plan is to not worry about anything but execution, but when you're working on so many things, that is in the back of your mind and you're trying to do the things you're working on.
But once that muscle memory gets engrained and you don't have to think about that anymore at all, the only thing on my mind was the right pitch and to execute it.
Q. Jim Leyland said that this year's A's team is even more impressive to him for the fact that they were leading for so long and not being the chaser. What's your take on the A's and what they showed you guys in Detroit at the end of August?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Obviously these A's are an extremely talented ball club. They were chasing all last year, and this year they came in with a Championship on their shoulder. Not necessarily inside the baseball world and not us as players, but the media was speculating that was probably a fluke, and for that reason, they went out there and showed that they are a playoff caliber team and left no doubt about it.
Obviously, they came into Detroit last time we played them and they were extremely hot. I feel like it was a kind of a combination of us pitchers not making great pitches and those guys being hot in their whole lineup.
And they put a hurtin' on us, beat us up pretty good. I remember in 2006, St. Louis came to us and we beat them really good, and we played them in the World Series, and they beat us. In season series aren't necessarily indicative of what's going to happen in the postseason.
Q. Have you had a chance to look at film of Sonny Gray and do you have any thoughts on them and what you've seen?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, I've seen a little bit, I haven't seen a lot. Obviously I'm not worried about what he's doing. I'm worried about what my job is, to go out there and do, and that's to win.
Obviously he's had a tremendous year. He's been great for these guys. But I'm not pitching against him. I'm pitching against their lineup.
Q. Justin, one common theme it seemed like to that series you referenced in August, that the A's hitters were doing is they seem to foul off a lot of pitches from you guys. You have had times over the years where you have had to battle teams that fouled off a lot as a pitcher. Is there anything you can do to combat that or is it a reaction to what hitters are doing?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't think you can come up with a game plan to combat guys fouling off pitches. I think you just go out there and attack the strike zone, force them to be aggressive and put the ball in play.
I don't think their game plan is to go up there and foul stuff off. That's not what they're looking to do. But these guys are patient hitters. They don't chase a lot and they don't swing and miss that often, a lot of them. So you're going to get foul balls, but it's not like I'm writing up a game plan to avoid foul balls.
I want early contact and early outs, and when you get two strikes you want strikeouts. But you can't expand too much all the time trying to get a strikeout with two strikes either because like I said, these guys are patient.
The main game plan really is to attack the strike zone and pound the strike zone as much as you can.
Q. Justin, coming into this postseason as opposed to prior ones where you've had a season where you did have bumps that nobody had witnessed and you probably haven't even experienced. How are you different coming in as a guy who has experienced these past six months than you were maybe in seasons past?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I honestly don't look at myself any differently. We aren't robots, things aren't always perfect, and this is a season that opened my eyes to that fact.
The last couple of years came pretty easy to me, right from the Spring Training, from the jump street, it was like, Okay, my pitches are good, go from here.
And this year wasn't like that. I would fix something and that would cause a kink in the chain, and I would fix that. And it was a matter of getting myself to where I need to do be. It was a year long battle. I'm not going to lie. This is something I worked on from early in the season until a couple of weeks ago, and I felt like the last couple of starts were where I needed to be.
It's funny it took all year but hopefully I figured it out and peaking at the right time.
Q. As happy as I'm sure you are for Max having been the one guy and the guy that's going to pitch Game 5, is there any part of you that is disappointed that you're not that guy?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think any pitcher wants to be the Game 1 pitcher, but we're a unit. And the funny thing is if it wasn't me, this would probably be a nonissue. Max is the best pitcher in the American League, the only reason this is being brought up is what I've done over the last couple of years. And like I said, Max without a doubt is the best pitcher in the American League, and he absolutely earned this.
And myself, Doug, Anibal, Max, any of us, if you asked us, of course you would like to start Game 1, but I didn't start Game 1 in the championship series last year. I pitched Game 5 here, I started Game 3. We won that series. We swept that series.
It doesn't matter, especially with the rotation it doesn't really matter. I mean it does, but it doesn't. You know what I'm trying to say. The four guys we're throwing out there are four of the best pitchers in the league and we were all year.
When my number is called, I'm going to go out there and do my job. I'm going to go out there and do my job. When the ball is in my hand that's when it's my day.