ALCS Game 2: Justin Verlander Postgame Interview

Q. You’ve obviously had a lot of big games in your career, where does this one stack up?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: It’s definitely up there. If not the top. With everything that is going on, not just on the personal level but for the team, being in the Championship Series, and being a 1-1 game the whole way and being able to go nine and, man, just everything, it’s definitely one of the most satisfying starts I’ve had in my career.

Q. Can you talk, take us through what was going through your mind after about the fifth inning, you knew that you could stay or what you were feeling kind of as the game progressed, because you looked like you were almost getting stronger?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, you know, I felt really good, really strong early and then in the middle innings kind of lost my slider a little bit, it was, threw a couple ones that were kind of flat, but once we got through the, through those like 4th, 5th innings, everything kind of clicked after that and was just able to make my pitches. And that’s kind of what I kept telling myself. I don’t try to see the big picture or let myself think too far ahead, it’s just being in the moment, make your pitches and try to execute as long as you can until the manager says you’re done.

Q. I know yesterday we when we asked you about Altuve you said guys don’t hit .350 any more, well guys don’t throw 124 pitches any more. Who did you do that and what kept you going and what made you have that kind of resolve?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: I do consider myself an old school type pitcher and I think Mr. Ryan was in the crowd again today, I noticed that, but I think I’ve conditioned myself to throw that many pitches. I think early in my career when things in baseball are kind of transitioning from older school to newer school, I was fortunate to have a manager in Jim Leyland who realized that I got stronger as games went on and let me continue to pitch. I’m thankful for that. When I got here, one of the first things I did was have a conversation with AJ about how he would like it use me and he told me that he didn’t plan on trying to shorten my leash or take me out early, it was, we would have conversations and I would be honest with him and he would be honest with me about how I felt. And really after the 8th inning he didn’t even ask. I don’t think he needed to. He asked after the 7th and I kind of like probably wasn’t the nicest guy to him and just like, yeah, I’m good. And then there was no conversation after the 8th. It was mine to win or lose.

Q. Seems like we ask you this after every start. Is this why you came here on August 31st and made this decision, but to pitch on the day that the team clinched the division, to come out of the bullpen in Game 4 in Fenway and then today, it just seems like the story keeps getting better and deeper for you and this team?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I mean, this is what I envisioned when I made that decision. When it came down to it, when I decided to say yes, these are the moments that you envision. You don’t envision going 5-0 in the regular season once you get here, that’s all fine and great, but that’s not why I was brought here. I was brought here to help this team win a championship. And I’m aware of that and I’m going to do everything I possibly can. Today was just one step, it was a great game, from top to bottom, I’m satisfied with the way I felt and the way I threw, obviously, but same as what you were talking about when I’m pitching, I try not to see the bigger picture, it’s one at a time, and I’m pretty tired right now, honestly, it’s pretty mentally exhausting, the playoffs, but that’s what it’s all about, man, this is, after that game is over and just kind of sitting in the clubhouse and having my teammates come over and say how much they appreciated that effort, that’s what it’s all about. That means everything to me.

Q. Even going against Chapman how much confidence did you have in that part of the lineup and in that situation to come through in the bottom of the 9th inning?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think that’s what this team has, it exudes confidence. I think anybody can beat you at any time and I sat here a few days ago and was asked about Altuve for MVP and why I think he should or should not win and a few of the things that I expressed, you’ve seen immediately in two games how he can, how there’s so many different things he can do on the baseball field to help your team win on any given day. Whether it’s with his glove or his bat or his speed or his mind, all of these things he excels at and today was an example of how he beat you with his speed and his bat. Yesterday his glove. It’s just so many different things that he does so well. And then Carlos, I can’t say enough about what a great player he is and I think what sticks out to me is how young he is and how poised he is at his age and how no moment is too big for him and that’s a special quality that gets overlooked sometimes. But no two guys would you rather have in my opinion maybe in all of baseball to come up in that situation than Jose and Carlos.

Q. If you could take a two parts to take us through your range of emotions when you watched the relay from Reddick to Correa to Bregman for the out at third and then Altuve’s dash around the bases?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: I mentioned that to those guys after the game, that’s a huge moment in the ball game that will probably be overlooked in the history books, but that’s just one of the, that’s just one of the many way that is this team is so good, defense and in all facets of it, getting to the ball, getting it in, making a good relay throw and nice tag by Bregman, all of those things, I told those guys that that was a huge play and kept the momentum on our side and I know I’m not going over look that and the emotion at the end of the game, I mean there’s no describing that. I know I was, my heart was racing by the time I got way out there to second base to give Carlos a big high five. I know that.

Q. Two postseason starts for you in this building, what is that atmosphere like? Today seemed like they were in it from start to I know finish and that’s got to get you going as you’re grinding out there?

JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I try to not focus on it so much but you definitely hear it. The times I hear it most when I come out of the dugout before the game like just to warm up, when your nerves are kind of high and you don’t really know what’s going to happen, I hear them then. And then once the game starts, it’s, I really try to just focus on what I have to do. Although when I went back out for the 9th inning that was extremely loud and then during the 9th inning all those guys got to two strikes, and that was probably the loudest I heard a ballpark or close to it. And I’ve been part of some pretty loud moments, but the way those fans were pushing me to finish that game, or finish the 9th inning and have a chance to win the game, I mean that matters. It gets your adrenaline going.