The Denver Post
Verlander blocking Yanks from pennant
HOUSTON» Justin Verlander agreed to that last-second trade to the Houston Astros with hopes of another World Series, and has since won all eight games he has pitched.
Eight is not enough. The Astros have to win Verlander’s ninth game — or their season will end short of that goal.
“Obviously. I know this is one of the main reasons I was brought here,” Verlander said Thursday. “This is why I’m here.”
Six days after the big righthander threw a complete game against the Yankees to put Houston up 2-0 in the best-ofseven AL Championship Series, the teams will be back in Minute Maid Park for Game 6 on Friday night with the Astros facing elimination after New York swept three games in the Bronx.
“Well, there’s immediate belief when you have a Justin Verlander go,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “His presence will immediately make everybody sit up straight, stand up a little bit more, have a little bit more energy because of the presence that he brings.”
The Astros certainly need the boost.
Aaron Judge and the Baby Bombers from New York, who had a pair of 2-1 losses in Houston and struck out 13 times against Verlander, definitely have a lot more energy and confidence after outscoring the Astros 19-5 and outhitting them 2512 in their three home games.
And they have already turned the tables on Dallas Keuchel, the other Astros ace who lost Game 5 after winning the series opener with 10 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.
“Look at a number of other players that have been through the playoffs, and they’ve had their struggles, and all of a sudden they can get hot,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “And I think everything is magnified when you’re in the playoffs, and two games seem like forever, where if you struggle two games in the season people don’t say much.”
The Yankees are just one win away from their first American League pennant since 2009 and record 41st overall.
Houston has to win Verlander’s start and then another game for its first AL pennant. The Astros were still in the National League for their only World Series appearance 12 years ago.