Houston (SPORTSRADIO 610) – Allowing a trade from Detroit to Houston in the final minutes before the deadline purely came down to winning for Justin Verlander. Since his arrival, he has pitched 34 innings and has a record of (5-0) with a 1.06 ERA. In what will be his 17th career postseason start on Thursday, Justin does not expect anything to change.
“To have the opportunity to once again be in the playoffs, I could say I don’t take it for granted anymore. It seemed easy for a while with the Tigers organization, especially with my first year going to the World Series, so, I appreciate ever step of the way now,” Verlander said.
Verlander will square up against Red Sox lefty Chris Sale. They are familiar opponents having spent multiple seasons battling each other in the American League Central Division on their respective former teams, the Tigers and White Sox. Runs will surely be at a premium as Sale has had a historic regular season with 308 strikeouts.
“We faced off a lot of times. You know what type of match up it’s going to be. It’s going to be a grind. It’s kind of like the first person to blink,” Justin said.
The Red Sox rotation could give the Astros some trouble. Boston will roll out another lefty in game two, Drew Pomeranz, knowing full well that Houston has a record of (21-23) against left-handed starters. Game three starters have not been named for either team, but it is likely that reigning American League Cy Young winner Rick Porcello will toe the rubber in the return to Boston.
“There a good team, they didn’t sneak up on anybody either, ” Astros Manager A.J. Hinch said. “They can shorten the game with their bullpen, they have a lot of guys in the rotation that have pitched well, they have some tough outs… And it starts with Chris Sale.”
The 2015 postseason has lingered in the minds of fans, coaches and players. While it was a disappointment then, it became a learning experience and an advantage now. Everyone is ready for more.
“It was a great experience for our young guys and it was our first arrival. That was the first time we were really in, some ways, respected again in the game that we had good players, and good talent, and we won games,” Hinch said. “Those are all great memories for those guys… I think it made us a little hungrier to get back.”