Astros ace Justin Verlander is confident in his ability to do what’s necessary to take this team further and wanted to be on the mound in tonight’s game 4.
In the late innings of the Astros 10-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, you could see Justin Verlander and Manager A.J. Hinch in the dugout in the midst of a serious conversation. There was an intense and determined look on the future Hall of Famer’s face. He wanted to take on the responsibility of Game 4. He wanted the ball when it counted.
The original thought was that Wade Miley or rookie Jose Urquidy would get the start for game four if necessary. But it seems once reality set in that there actually would be a fourth game, they didn’t want to take any chances. No one wants to play that fifth game. Hence, the decision by Verlander and Hinch to try and end it now. Take the bull by the horns and go all out.
According to Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, Verlander simply relayed to Hinch “give me the ball”. When Justin Verlander wants the ball, when he wants to stand on the mound in an all-important game, well, you give him the ball. Hinch has no doubt that his ace can get the job done, even on short rest.
There is also history to back up the decision to go with Verlander. He has a career record of 10-4 against the Rays with an ERA of 3.17 in 20 starts. At Tropicana Field, where Houston hasn’t fared too well, Verlander is even better with a 6-3 record and a 2.87 ERA.
Then, take into account his recent success versus this current Tampa Bay lineup and it makes even more sense. Verlander has faced the Rays twice this season winning both games and allowing just one run in 12.2 innings. In the first game of this ALDS, he pitched seven scoreless innings surrendering only one hit and striking out eight.
If Justin Verlander has the confidence and Hinch has the confidence, then why shouldn’t we. Verlander says he feels great, and he’s ready for the challenge. Let’s just sit back and watch him do his thing and when he’s on his A-game, it can be quite the spectacle to watch.