Oct. 6 Justin Verlander postgame interview
Q. Can you give us a little overview of how it was going in those early innings when it looked like the fastball might be a little bit of a challenge versus what occurred from the middle of the innings and afterwards?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, early on didn't have great control with really any of my pitches. But obviously somewhat of a mistake to Coco to lead off the game and was able to get some key outs after that.
Obviously four walks is inexcusable. But I left some guys on base, through my own fault, but was able to make pitches and get myself out of the jams I created.
And then as the game went on, got better and better and started finding the zone a little bit more, and not just finding the zone but quality strikes and was able to execute and get some guys out.
Q. Do you think the fact that the A's are known for striking out a lot sort of plays into the fact that you're a strikeout pitcher?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, to be honest with you I know the other thing they're known for is working pitch counts. Obviously in the postseason you don't go out there and think about pitch count and keeping it low. You just think about getting as many outs as you can and not letting guys score.
So pitch count wasn't one of my concerns tonight. I knew it got elevated early. They did the same thing to me here last time I faced them.
But a little bit different situation here. You just gotta try to keep them off the board and allow your guys to score some runs and get a lead.
Q. You were able to get some strikeouts outside and get on and off the on the outside corner. How much of that was a reaction from Alex and how much of that was something you observed?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: What do you mean?
Q. In terms of being able to pound that outside corner the second
JUSTIN VERLANDER: That was one of the places I was able to kind of feel my spot a little bit, execute my pitch. I felt like my ball was running a lot tonight. So down and away to a lefty or down and into a righty was an easier spot for me to hit than into a lefty.
The pitch to Coco in the first inning, I tried to go in, it runs back a little bit and just enough for him to get the barrel on it and hit a home run. It's the adjustments you make during a game.
I knew that my misses would be off the plate away to a lefty or arm side to the plate and not be in the middle of the plate. So that was something I noticed early on and just kind of went with what my strength was today.
Q. You talked earlier about you don't worry much about pitch count this time of year, but 25 in the first inning, that's not a pace you can keep up to stay in the game very long. You answered it a little bit there, but what did you do to be more economical as the game went on?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I didn't focus on being economical. Obviously four innings and one run is better than five innings and six runs.
So I just tried to continue to make my pitches and just told myself wherever the pitch count ends up, that's where it ends up.
I'm just going to be aggressive, try to find the strike zone and throw quality strikes, and the pitch count will take care of itself if you do that. So that was my main focus.
Q. You hadn't thrown five straight strikeouts in a playoff game until tonight. Could you talk about the groove you were in mentally and physically during that little stretch.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: That's the kind of groove I've been working to find the whole day. Obviously, like I said, early on was kind of a bit of a battle for me. But that extra run really helped, too. Gives you a little bit of added confidence going out there knowing one solo homer doesn't beat you or tie the game.
So just kind of found my rhythm a little bit and was able to hit my spots better. And I started throwing my breaking ball for strikes a little bit better, too, because early in the game I was burying all of them. I couldn't quite throw it for a strike and they were taking a lot of them and I was getting myself instead of 1 2, I'd bury it and throw it for a ball that wasn't even swingable. Then it was 2 2. Gets back into a hitter's type count.
Q. Because of the 2 3 playoff format this year and the way you guys have played at home all season, was there any feeling of a must win game coming into this?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think every postseason game has a feeling of a must win game. Obviously especially the home ones you want to win, but we know 2 and 3, the first one's a big one, especially in a short series.
So we were able to take this one. Hopefully we win tomorrow and we just gotta win one in Oakland, which is a tough place to play, and obviously it's going to be pretty raucous there.
Q. How do you prepare differently when you have that longer six day layoff?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. That's a good question. I took an extra day off, and then from there I treated it like it was a sixth day.
So I think it was a week between throwing, from or pitching for me, which obviously you don't do throughout the season. So kind of tried to keep it as normal as possible. So I took the next day off after my last start and treated it like an extra day. Extra day's rest like it would be in the normal regular season.
So threw two bullpens in between and just tried to maintain my feel knowing that the extra day could kind of throw that off a little bit, which I felt like maybe it did a little bit early but was able to battle through it.
Q. Given the Game 1 against Sabathia last year and the way that sort of threw pitching out of whack, were you looking at the weather forecast over the last week to make sure this would be okay?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, I wasn't looking. And I said yesterday I actually found out through Twitter, somebody tweeted me: Finally looks like you're going to get good weather for your start or no rain I guess it wasn't good weather. But that's something you can't pay attention to. You can't control Mother Nature. Whether it was today or tomorrow, it doesn't really matter, as long as it wasn't one of those start the game throw two innings and get shut down again.
I was happy it wasn't that.
Q. Justin, was this, quote/unquote, just another playoff game for you, or did you take anything out of your past playoff experience like last year and use it to your advantage tonight?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I tried to use it to my advantage. I think having experienced these type of atmospheres and knowing what to expect out of myself, the adrenalin, the angst, everything, felt like I was able to corral that a little bit better and use it to my advantage.
Q. The A's, to use their word, spoke of a frustration tonight with some called strikes. Were there any adjustments you made to a strike zone that appeared to be consistent, even if it was a bit controversial?JUSTIN VERLANDER: No adjustments I made. I felt like they have that box up there the entire game, which is tough on umpires.
But I feel like he was consistent, both ways. As you guys know, I go down in the tunnel in between innings and watch on TV. And I feel like he did a great job tonight. He was extremely consistent both ways, for the A's and for us, and calling balls and strikes. And I think they were frustrated a little bit because they were behind.
I think if they're ahead, it's a different story.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.