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October 13, 2011

Justin Verlander


Detroit Tigers – 7
Texas Rangers - 5

THE MODERATOR: Who has the first question for Justin?

Q. How good did you feel when that pitch count got to 125, 130, 133?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Felt fine. I really felt like in the sixth and seventh I started to find my rhythm a little bit. It had been a battle all day. I made some big pitches when I needed to get out of some jams. Made one mistake to a hot hitter.
I really would have liked to have finished that eighth inning. But as fate would have it, it didn't work out that way. Coke came in and did a great job.

Q. Talk about the sixth inning bases loaded, one out, Kinsler comes up. Take us from there. What did you do? Were you happy one pitch you got out of that.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, I was happy. Fastball down and in. Broken bat roller groundball to Brandon. Basically, exactly how I would have drawn it up. Couldn't have worked out any better.

Q. Jim came out before the game and said honestly I want to get by today with just Justin Verlander and Coke. He said no Benoit, no Valverde. Were you aware of just how thin your bullpen was? Did you think about that as you're out there?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You can't let yourself think about that when you're out there. But I knew that was the case. Therefore, I knew that he would let me ride out there for 130, 140, maybe.
But you look up there and after five innings and you're up over 100 already. It's not looking good. But like I said, they're in the sixth and seventh, I kind of found my rhythm a little bit. Slowed down.
I was hitting my spots and got some quick outs which allowed me to go back out there in the eighth and eat up as many innings as I could and allow his plan to work.

Q. You faced so many batters this year, pitched so many innings. At this stage, does it feel -- is it more of a grind to get through a game? Do you feel any difference in your stuff or how you feel afterwards or anything?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, I feel good. Like I've talked about numerous times, this is why I work so hard in the offseason and during the season. To feel good now. This is the first time all year I've hit 102. I feel pretty good. I'll be ready to go next time whether that's Game 7 out of the bullpen or Game 1 of the World Series. Hopefully it's Game 1 of the World Series. But whenever Skip needs me, I'm ready.

Q. Could I just ask you, this is one of those games elimination games you sort of dream about. What was going through your mind? And what does it mean to you to be able to come through to keep your team alive?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Well, you know, this is obviously something you think about as a kid. But when you're out there doing it, you can't allow yourself to think about it any differently than a normal start.
Obviously, I knew the scenario and knew that's a big situation. But you can't let yourself think oh man if we lose we go home, blah-blah-blah. You just have to go out there and once you take the ball, pitch like you're capable of doing.

Q. How do you feel now?

Q. Justin, talk to us a little bit. For those of us who haven't been here, talk to us about the mindset that allows you to see Cruz's home run hit the foul pole and you smile? What's up with that?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, it was kind of a -- obviously, you don't want to give up a home run there. But I had battled so hard to get out there in the eighth inning, I was happy to be able to chew up those extra innings when one long inning, really one long at-bat would have had me out of there.
But I grinded my way through the sixth and seventh inning, go back out there for the eighth. Get the first strikeout. Give up a base hit to Napoli, and then it's -- the pitch before I blew one by him, and then challenge him again. Made a mistake.
I tried to go down and away. It ran up in the middle, which is what -- go look at all the home runs he's hit this series. I say all of them, because he's hit a few of them, and that's about the spot that he's hit them.
And really, I outthunk myself. I thought I made him look pretty foolish on a couple of curveballs earlier in the game. Here I am 0-2, he might be sitting on another one.
So I'm playing that guessing game with him. That's not the way you should pitch. Like I said, outthunk myself. Tried to sneak one by him and he was ready for it.
That's it in the air, it's please go foul, please go foul. I'm such an idiot, please go foul. It didn't. That's why you get the little smirk.

Q. Justin, about that 102, when Beltre gets ahold of it and you watch it going down the line there, what's your first reaction? And then how does that impact the rest of that at-bat? I saw you kind of went off speed with him after that.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Once I saw it in the air, it was plenty fair. Then it started hooking pretty hard. You're obviously praying for it to hook or slice. It was slicing. Bring out my golf analogy. It was slicing pretty hard.
Thankfully it went just foul. I looked up and saw it was 102, I said, thank God it wasn't 101 or it would be a home run. You reset and go with the pitches you think are necessary. Obviously he was ready for that. He put a good swing on it. Worked out in our favor. I attacked him a little differently from there.

Q. It seemed like after the Cruz homer he was doing some sort of antics. Did you see that? I think he said 100. Did you happen to see what he was doing towards you and just wondered how you felt about it?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, I didn't see it. I don't know if he's giving himself props or maybe me props. I don't know. But I heard that they maybe said I was staring him down in the dugout. I didn't see anything. I had no problem. As the ball hit the foul pole, he was standing at home plate for a second. He was seeing if it was fair or foul, whatever. I had no problem. Maybe if I had saw him do some antics, I might have had a little issue, but I didn't.
I don't plan on looking back at it, because I don't want to have to do anything.
THE MODERATOR: Since you working extra long, would you mind a couple more?

Q. It seems like the ball finds Brandon Inge in key moments, the double play to end the inning. He's had a really up and down year this year. He's kind of a lightning rod for criticism with fans. What do the guys in the room think about Brandon and what he means to this team?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: He's a lightning rod for criticism with the fans. He's a lightning rod in general for us. He's had some big hits in clutch situations. Made some huge plays for us. If there's anybody in that infield I could pick to have the ball hit to in a clutch situation, it would be him. In my opinion, the best fielding third baseman in the league. Just the guy I want the ball to go to in that situation.

Q. Justin, Phil Coke of course lost his job in the starting rotation earlier this season, and here he is tonight saving the ballgame for you. I wondered if you could share a few words about Phil Coke.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: What a great job he did against an outstanding lineup and a right-handed heavy hitting lineup. He came in there in the eighth and shut down his two lefties. Gets in a little bit of a jam there in the ninth against the meat of the order, and it seems like that's what most closers tend to do.
He's had an opportunity to close out a couple of games for us in the past. It's when they get in a little bit of trouble they really nail down and close the door. He was able to do that tonight. What a great job he did.

Q. Obviously you and the Tigers hope you have another home game. Can you talk about that moment when you walked off the field and kind of tipped your glove, I guess, just what that was like?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Tremendous moment. These fans have been stellar all year, and this is a great city for sports, great city for baseball. And this is a great time for the city. Lions are 5-0.
Here we are in the AL Championship Series. You have the Red Wings starting up. These fans are excited. They show it. They are extremely loud and they know big situations.
I think in a lot of other cities after giving up a two-run home run in the eighth I don't know if I would have gotten that ovation. I think they realize I was out there grinding and they showed their support.
Like I said a few times, it's happened a few times to me where I've acknowledged the fans. I don't like to do that in the middle of a ballgame, but when they show their support that way, you can't help but give them a little tip of the cap or a wave or something because they've been tremendous all year and they're one of the reasons we're here now.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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