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October 5, 2018

Justin Verlander

Houston, Texas - postgame 1

Houston-7, Cleveland-2

Q. A.J. mentioned that you live for these starts. They really matter to you. They really count. What do you think he means when he says something like that?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't know. I've always enjoyed the moment. I think it's something that you don't take for granted. You work so hard for so long, all year long, and you end up here in the playoffs. You just want to go out there and succeed. I think that's something that -- the more I've been in the playoffs, the more I understand how important it is. From my first year in the playoffs, to having Sean Casey who came over from the Reds and had ten years in the big leagues and hadn't experienced one playoff game. That's something he told us to kind of put things in perspective. Ever since my rookie year, I've never taken for granted how special it is to be in these situations.

This is what I worked so hard for. I work so hard all off-season, all season to be strong at this time of the year. To go out there and be at the top of my game is what it's all about.

Q. To kind of piggyback on that one, when you pitch as well as you did in September, how pleased are you to come out here your first start in the postseason and look as good as you did the first five minutes?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Really pleased. I think you want to set a tone. You want to allow your team to go out there and kind of put up a couple runs and just relax. Was able to do that early in the game. First five innings was right where I wanted to be against a team that's kind of given me fits.

Like I said yesterday before the game, I think just making pitches is what it's about in these situations, and I was able to do that for the most part today.

Q. Justin, there's been so much talk about bullpens and openers in this postseason. Do you feel like you're kind of the answer to that? How much do you think a starting pitcher like you can put his stamp on a game like this? And how much do you relish that chance?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: First off, I don't think I'm the answer. I think our team is the answer. I think we have a lot of really talented starters. Today's game I don't think is my stamp. I did my part. We had Pressly come in in a huge spot there and was able to shut it down and maintain the lead, and the bullpen did the rest.

I think today is how you -- in my opinion, is how you kind of draw up a team win when the starter doesn't go seven, eight, nine innings.

I'm a believer in starting pitching. I think you need it. I think the more relievers get used every single day, it has an effect, in my opinion. Whether you can sustain that for a year, two years, three years, throughout October, I don't know. I don't have the answers. But I do believe in innings. I believe in protecting the bullpen. And I believe in a starting pitcher.

Q. There is an amazing chemistry between you and Martin Maldonado. Can you describe the work you two did together tonight?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, he was fantastic back there. It's like stepping in last year, having to work with Brian McCann, someone who takes so much pride and has so much passion for what he does behind the plate and what he does offensively comes second. You saw him hit a big home run tonight, which is icing on the cake, I'm sure, for him. He's pleased that he did a good job back there calling the game, calling the right pitches in the right situations, helping us through the ball game.

And it's a similar feel with him as it was with me and Brian last year where I see him in the video room, I see all the work he's putting in to help understand what we want to do as pitchers and get on the right page and right feel.

Honestly, it's probably tougher for him because he came over here late and all the signs and everything that we have -- when I got here with Brian last year, we kind of clicked right away. Martin had to do that with everybody. So he's got a difficult job, and I think he's thrived at it, and it's been a lot of fun to watch, and I really enjoyed working with him.

Q. I would never speak for you, but I'm guessing your preference would be to finish the sixth in that situation. But with the depth of this bullpen, does it make it easier in the way those guys can pitch and the way Pressly's been pitching?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Absolutely. I think we had confidence when he came in that he was able to make pitches and get us out of that jam. You know, you want to finish the ninth every time you take the ball, but that's just not realistic. I was up around 100 pitches, and they started to have some good at-bats that third time through. So I thought it was the right move, and it worked out. It played out perfectly today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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