October 27, 2019
Washington, D.C. – pregame 5
Q. I’m sure you’ve heard the news but in the five years you played with Max, what would be your experience for him not to make a start?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, it’s got to be pretty bad. I don’t know. Obviously it’s all speculation on my end.
But I know that he was a competitor, always wanted to take the ball. Given the situation, I’m assuming it’s not good.
Q. Obviously if you guys win the World Series you’ll celebrate and all that kind of stuff. To what extent is it somewhat disappointing that Max can’t go and that we’re not seeing this great matchup tonight, Cole and Scherzer?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, I don’t know. I don’t think it should take anything away from the series. Things like this happen all the time. I remember playing against the Yankees in the playoffs when Jeter broke his ankle. We’re not robots, we’re humans, and things go wrong physically.
Teams deal with it all year through adversity. It’s just obviously on a bigger stage now so it gets more attention.
Q. As big as this stage is, how much different has it been for you being so close to home and having so many people from your childhood be able to just drive up the road and see you guys?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, made the ticket situation a little harder.
But, yeah, it’s been pretty cool to be here and have some friends that otherwise wouldn’t be able to see this game, this atmosphere in the World Series and be able to experience it.
Q. How about the opportunity to be back in Minute Maid Park?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it’s exciting. I think after the first couple of games obviously our goal coming here was to be able to get back to Minute Maid. We’ve accomplished that. And obviously we want to win tonight.
But excited to get back home and play in front of our home crowd.
Q. You and Daniel Hudson were at ODU, not at the same time, but have you had a chance to talk to him during the series? And of course with Zimmerman, Doolittle, there’s four Virginia products in the World Series.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, pretty cool. I actually haven’t had the time to speak to him. Go figure, World Series, we’re pretty busy doing other stuff.
But I actually made an effort to go see AnIbal yesterday during the game because I played with him. It wasn’t easy to get to him. All the media on the field and everything.
It’s pretty cool how well represented Virginia is as a whole. Growing up playing against Zimm, he gave me a sly little look the other day after I threw the ball off my shin when he was at first base, which was pretty funny.
I remember going all the back to my ODU days, him and I played golf together. From then to now, a lot has happened in both our lives, but pretty cool to have our lives interconnect like that and to end up on this stage.
Q. You were talking the other night about how when modern analytics individual pitcher wins aren’t as significant as before. Still, if Houston wins tonight, would it mean something to be able to get the first World Series win in a World Series clincher?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, yeah. I think wins matter. I think that was a little bit of a joke.
I mean, yeah, that would obviously be a moment that would be — that I would cherish in my career if that were able to happen.
Q. Is there anything you learned in your Game 2 start facing the Nationals and then in video that you’ve maybe watched since then that you’ve learned about this team as you prepare for your next start?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think their two-strike approach is really good. I think they prepare very well. I think they will adjust to that pitcher, that given day. Which is, funny enough, in today’s game you don’t see it that often. It seems easy to say, Wow, you make an adjustment, you go to a two-strike approach, but that’s found its way out of the game.
Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to see a couple of teams that don’t swing and miss a ton, and change their approach based on the pitcher that’s pitching against them.
So I think the guys in the middle of that lineup get a ton of credit and a lot of the headlines, but really, 1 through 9, all those guys are really good hitters. And surprisingly so, I don’t think we see a lot of each other throughout the course of the season, NL and AL, besides some highlights on TV. So you’re not really studying to play against each other. Having faced them, they’re just extremely talented top to bottom.
Q. Including the 2017 run, I think this will be the fifth time you’ll have faced an opponent twice in a postseason series. How has your approach evolved over time and what have you learned about the process of trying to attack a lineup the second time?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, it becomes more difficult. I think there’s adjustments both ways. But I think those opposing guys once they’ve seen you three, four at-bats, it’s a little bit easier for them to make adjustments, and having seen your off-speed stuff and tracked it. You just need to execute a little bit better.
Q. We discussed limited run support after your start in Houston. To what degree have you been encouraged that the bats seem to have improved the last couple of days?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: We talked about it right after that. These guys all season long, offense comes and goes, you have slumps, but when they’re clicking on all cylinders, it’s pretty special to watch.
Definitely nice to see a couple of guys to come up and come through in big moments. Offense is always welcome. I think hitting is contagious, and when these boys are feeling the way they are right now, it’s tough to get them out.
Q. What is your team sentiment on the president attending the game tonight? If you won the World Series would you want to go to the White House?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don’t know the team sentiment. We haven’t really discussed it all that much. We’re worried about winning a baseball game.
He’s the president of the United States. If he wants to attend a baseball game, I think he has every right to be here just as much as everybody else in the stadium.
Q. Would you want to go to the White House if you won the World Series?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: That’s kind of a superstitious, I can’t answer that question.
Q. Everybody have talked about your time at ODU, and the competitive drive was still there back then. Going back to that era, when you were preparing for a start of Tuesday’s magnitude, regardless of the result tonight, the difference mentally and the competitive juices thinking ahead, Hey, I have the chance to potentially win the World Series?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Those are the moments that you dream about. As a kid, me and my dad in the backyard just drawing up these moments in our heads, Hey, Game 7 of the World Series, you’re on the mound, two outs, bottom of the 9th, bases loaded.
It’s just having the opportunity to be out there and be on the mound hopefully in a scenario where we can close it out, that’s everything I’ve dreamed of.
Q. Before the series we talked about Urquidy and what he meant for this team. After his performance yesterday, did you talk with him? What did you see yesterday in his performance?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, that was incredible. I saw a calmness. I saw great stuff. I saw attacking the zone. I saw the second Mexican-born player to win a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela, which I was sure to mention to him after the game.
I think everybody was just so excited for him. All season long he’s come up in big spots. He’s done well for us. But to be able to do it on that stage and at that moment, it doesn’t fall short of anybody in our clubhouse and we made sure to let him know that.
Q. What would winning a second World Series championship mean to you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mean, hard to put into words. I can’t even really — it’s one of those things that in the moment, right now while we’re grinding, trying to win it, you don’t really think about it. It probably wouldn’t even cross my mind or sink in until the offseason sometime.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports