World Series Game 5 See the Dazzling Victory of Justin Verlander, and the Astros Wins the Game Title
Before Thursday, Verlander had started eight World Series games. Not one was his to claim. The playoffs are a gamble; we’ve been told that for twenty years.
That’s what sticks in people’s minds,” Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
“I have two thousand victories, and all anyone talks about is the fact that I haven’t won the World Series. That’s right! What, then, is the distinction? Exactly what I mean, right? “So, yeah, it matters. It matters to the people. It matters to us.”
Of course, it does. Kershaw, the greatest pitcher of this generation, fell short so often in October that, in the aftermath of a harrowing defeat, he said, “Everything people say he is true right now about the postseason.” That was in 2019. The Dodgers’ demons were banished in 2020 when the team won the World Series, and Kershaw starred in a pair of victories in the postseason.
16 years after his World Series debut, Verlander recorded his first World Series victory
The Astros won Game 5 of the World Series by a 3-2 score and now lead the best-of-seven series by a 3-2 margin. The Astros’ Game 6 starter is slated to be Framber Valdez, whose undefeated postseason included six scoreless innings against Philadelphia in Game 2.
Verlander started his teammates praising him as if he were a rookie who had won his first major league game. “They placed me in the cart and rolled me in the shower and dowsed me with all sorts of stuff,” he said, “and it was one of the nicest feelings in my career.”
Verlander was not particularly sharp. He let up a home run to the first batter he faced, Kyle Schwarber. The Astros had the bullpen up behind him in the second inning and again in the fourth. The Phillies loaded the bases in the second inning and put runners in the scoring position in the third.
In the first three innings, Verlander walked four batters, more than he had walked in any of his prior starts this season – 37 in all, postseason included. Baker would have been perfectly justified — maybe even brilliant — in pulling Verlander after four innings.
But five innings is the minimum required for a starting pitcher to earn a victory, and Verlander escaped the fifth.
With Bryce Harper on second base, representing the tying run, Verlander needed ten pitches to retire Nick Castellanos on a fly ball. Once Harper reached base, Verlander said he thought Baker might remove him. Instead, Baker reflected on his time spent with the Dodgers during his playing career.
Baker said he did not leave Verlander in the game so he could finish the fifth and become eligible for the victory. Baker was, however, aware of that. “It was in my heart,” he said.
Verlander has struck out more batters than any other pitcher in postseason history, barely ahead of Kershaw. He has given up more home runs than any other pitcher in World Series history. His World Series earned-run average sits at 5.06.
No matter, he finally has a victory in the season-ending tournament. For the first time as a manager on Saturday, Baker could grasp the title trophy. The Astros are 27 outs from another piece of metal.