Justin Verlander was acquired to bolster Houston’s starting pitching for a postseason run and the veteran right-hander has a chance to pitch the Astros to their first World Series title when he faces the host Los Angeles Dodgers in Tuesday’s Game 6. Verlander received a no-decision in Game 2 and has never won a World Series game, going 0-3 with a 6.43 in four career starts with the Detroit Tigers and Houston.
The 34-year-old Verlander has more than done his job since joining the Astros - he is 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 10 total appearances (nine starts) - but fully understands one more big outing is needed. “These games are what it’s all about,” Verlander told reporters Monday. “These are the moments that you want to be a part of as a baseball player. It’s everything you could ask for.” Houston is in position to clinch after Sunday’s 13-12, 10-inning victory, the second wild game of a World Series featuring a record 22 homers. “Obviously, we want to be the last team standing on the field, win the last game of the season, that’s the goal,” Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner said at a press conference. “But you have literally the two best teams in baseball are going at it. It’s the clash of the titans right now, and I don’t think there’s a single moment of this season that will be unforgettable.”
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Justin Verlander (4-0, 2.05 ERA) vs. Dodgers LH Rich Hill (0-0, 2.77)
Verlander gave up only two hits in his Game 2 outing at Dodger Stadium but both were homers (to Joc Pederson and Corey Seager) as he gave up three runs in six innings. Not having a World Series win might be the lone thing missing from a stellar career resume that includes 11 career postseason victories. “As soon as the postseason starts, you’re living or dying on every single pitch, and your whole team is living or dying on every single pitch,” Verlander said. “It changes everything.”
Hill was the recipient of a quick hook from manager Dave Roberts despite giving up one run and three hits and striking out seven in four innings in Game 2. Roberts hinted that Hill will have a longer leash in Game 6 and the 37-year-old proclaims himself ready for the task. “It’s something that all of us have been preparing our entire careers for,” Hill told reporters. “Going out there in Game 6 and having the ability to be in that position, and go out there and leave everything on the field, is just an amazing thought.”
1. The previous World Series record for homers was 21 in 2002 when the then-Anaheim Angels prevailed over the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
2. Los Angeles 1B Cody Bellinger is on a 4-for-7 roll with one homer, one triple and two doubles after opening the World Series with 13 hitless at-bats.
3. Houston OF George Springer reached base five times (three walks, one single, one home run) in Game 5 and has gone deep three times in the series.
PREDICTION: Dodgers 6, Astros 4