Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) in the dugout before game three of the 2019 World Series against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

George Springer shook his head at the mere mention of Houston Astros teammate Justin Verlander’s past October trouble, the only pitcher in baseball history to go 0-5 in the World Series.

“We wouldn’t be here without him,” Springer declared. “I don’t care what individual stats say.”

Then, as if to emphasize the point, the Astros outfielder repeated himself: “We wouldn’t be here without him. So I’m glad that we’re handing the ball to him. We’ll see what happens.”

Story continues below advertisement

Verlander will get a chance to make people forget his postseason struggles, including losses in win-and-advance games in this year’s AL Division Series and Championship Series, if he can help Houston clinch a second championship in three years. The 36-year-old right-hander will start Game 6 at home against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

“He’s prepared. He’s ready for this moment. We’ve been communicating back and forth throughout the whole series on how we were going to make an adjustment to what we were seeing and how we were going to attack,” said Gerrit Cole, Verlander’s rotation-mate and chief AL Cy Young Award competition this season.

“It’s going to be business as usual for him. He’s going to set the tone for us,” Cole said. “Hopefully we can back him up with some runs, and play some great D.“

Cole gave up just one run in seven innings and struck out nine as the Astros grabbed a 3-2 series lead Sunday night by beating the NL wild-card Nationals 7-1.

Springer, Carlos Correa and rookie Yordan Alvarez all delivered two-run homers – celebrated with elaborate handshakes and hearty hugs – for the team that led the majors with 107 wins in the regular season.

The hootin’ and hollerin’ carried on in the mini-cafeteria in the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park.

It’s really been rousing to be on the road so far: Only two other times in baseball history did the home team fail to win any of the first five games of a World Series.

Story continues below advertisement

The Nationals won the first two games in Houston by a combined score of 17-7, before the Astros switched everything around and took all three games in Washington by a total tally of 19-3.

The Nationals entered the weekend having won 18 of 20 games, which was the best streak the team had posted since moving from Montreal to Washington in 2005. Then they went 0-3 at home.

“We’re just going back there,” Nationals outfielder Juan Soto said, “trying to do the same thing we did before.”

Now comes Monday’s break in the best-of-seven series, before Houston asks Verlander to try to end the World Series.

If he can’t, and there is a Game 7 on Wednesday, the Nationals will hope they can send out three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, who was scratched just hours before Game 5 because of a neck problem that left him unable to lift his throwing arm.

Scherzer said he was given a cortisone shot and needed his wife’s help just to get dressed.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is just a little thing that turned into a big thing that turned into a giant thing,” he said. “I’m just hoping that the doctors are right and that something could be possible for Game 7.”

There was no definite word for early Monday afternoon.

“Hopefully he’s a little bit better,” manager Dave Martinez said before the team travelled to Texas. “My understanding is it takes about 24 hours for this injection to really work.”

Might not matter, of course.

On the other hand, Verlander has not been pitching up to the high standards he established while winning 225 games, collecting 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP honours and earning eight All-Star selections.

After going 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 300 Ks during the regular season, this is what he’s done in five postseason starts in 2019: 1-3, 4.15 ERA, 35 strikeouts, 11 walks.

Story continues below advertisement

That includes a 12-3 loss in Game 2, also while facing Strasburg.

Five days later, Verlander gets another shot at the Nationals.

“We’ve got J.V. on the mound. A J.V. day is fun. I’ve been watching that guy pitch for a lot of years,” Astros reliever Joe Smith said. “He ain’t slowing down.”

Maybe so.

Still, it’s important to recall that two years ago, in another Game 6, Verlander could have sealed the Fall Classic against the Los Angeles Dodgers – and even had a sixth-inning lead, but Houston wound up losing 3-1. At least the Astros came back the next night to win Game 7 – and their first title.

Then, this October, Verlander got the ball on short rest for Game 4 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, but again couldn’t get the job done in a close-out game, giving up three runs in the first inning and losing 4-1. Once again, though, Houston won the next game to advance.

Story continues below advertisement

And in the ALCS against the New York Yankees, the same scenario played out: Up 3-1 in the series, Verlander got the start in Game 5, but he allowed four runs in the first inning of another 4-1 loss. Yet again, Houston won the next game to bail him out.

Strasburg, meanwhile, truly has been at his best this postseason, frequently relying on his seemingly unhittable changeup or his right-where-he-wants-it curveball as out pitches, rather than the high-90s mph fastball he thrived with in earlier times.

The 31-year-old righty enters Tuesday with a 4-0 record, 1.82 ERA, 40 strikeouts and just two walks in five appearances this month, four as a starter.

“We’ve got Justin Verlander on the mound, and that brings a lot of confidence to our clubhouse,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Their guy’s pretty good, too.”

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies