HOUSTON (AP) — 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 right-hander threw a complete game against the Yankees to put Houston up 2-0 in the best-of-seven 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," manager A.J. Hinch said. "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 25-12 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.