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October 16, 2012

Justin Verlander


Detroit Tigers – 2
New York Yankees – 1

THE MODERATOR:  Okay, Justin Verlander is here.

Q.  Justin, it looked like there were a lot of fastballs and changeups.  Can you talk about your approach against these guys tonight?  And we're kind of looking at how you were able to hold down that lineup while striking out just three guys.
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Well, really my approach was to get ahead and be aggressive and not let anybody score.  That approach kind of went out the window in the fourth.  I kind of fell out of rhythm a little bit and started falling behind guys, and I think that's why‑‑not that it matters, but I didn't strike out many more guys.  I was behind everybody and had to throw fastballs and throw fastballs almost down the middle.
But was able to make pitches when I needed to.  Got some pop‑ups and groundouts and was able to make pitches when I had to.

Q.  You have something to do with this with your fastball, but have you ever figured out how the Yankees manage to foul off so many pitches?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  You know, I think there's no secret to that.  They have a bunch of veteran players and they all have professional at‑bats and they don't swing at a lot of stuff out of the zone.
When you execute a pitch, especially with two strikes, a lot of those guys are able to foul it off.  And that's why they're a tough lineup to face year in and year out.  It is the little things they do in the box.  They don't ever give the bats away, especially in the postseason.

Q.  Justin, how much conversation was there with Jim before the ninth inning in terms of knowing that you were going to pitch the ninth?  What did you have in your mind as he was walking out to the rubber the first time to have the conversation with you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  There was a little bit of conversation.  We talked about it and I told him I felt good.  But I think we both understood if there was trouble with 130 pitches or so, you know, I would have to come out of the game.
And just so happens Nuñez put up one of his best at‑bats, given the situation, I have ever seen, especially with me on the mound.  And then he comes out there and I was hoping he wasn't going to take me out, and he comes out and asks if I can get one more out for him.  And I said absolutely.
So I knew after I got Gardner out that was the end of the game.  So it wasn't like I was disappointed to see him come out a second time.  I knew he was coming out after that.

Q.  When you get the lineup before the game, how surprised were you not to see A‑Rod and Swisher in there for the Yankees?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  To be honest, I don't really worry about the names on the back.  Not that the Yankees have that, but I focus on who's in the lineup that given day.  I have seen a lot of teams shuffle around a lot of lineups when I am out there, so it doesn't really phase me one way or the other if those guys are in there or not.  I just need to come up with the game plan to face the certain guys that I am going to face.
I can't say I was surprised, but that's Girardi's decision, not mine.

Q.  Justin, it looked like you couldn't sit still after you came out of the game.  What was it like being in the dugout watching that?  How important has it been to see Phil step up the way he has in the postseason?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  The reason you saw me not being able to sit still, that is out of my norm.  Usually when I am out of the game like that, I head to the locker room and go through my normal routine.  But obviously I wanted to stay for the last out there.
Made it a little nerve‑racking.  So I sprinted up to the locker room and went through my routine as fast as I possibly could.  Obviously I am superstitious a little bit.  So I watched the out last out from up top on the TV.

Q.  You had no hesitation in throwing Nuñez the second breaking pitch after he nearly hit the other one out.  Is that just the case where that is the pitch you wanted but you simply hung it?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  They were two different pitches.  One was a slider, one was a breaking ball, one was a curveball, and I hung both of them.  If I would have executed either one of them, it may be a different scenario.  Who knows?
Like I said, he put together heck of an at‑bat, was locked in.  Probably would have been a different result if I executed it better, but you never know with a guy up there that was battling like he was.  It was not like he was trying to foul stuff off putting good swings on the ball.

Q.  Justin, you mentioned you know you get into trouble when you get to 130 pitches.  But if it were up to you, would you just keep pitching forever?  Did you feel at that point it was time to go, too?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  I think that's what managers are for, to stop us from doing those type of things.  Obviously I don't think I would come out of any game all season.  Might throw 200 three starts in a row, probably wouldn't last long doing that.  Who knows.
But I am thankful I have a manager, first of all, that will let me go out there that long, and not a lot of guys will.  He had faith in me and we had good communication in the past about how I feel and whether I stay in or go out, and that hasn't changed.  We talked about it a little bit between the innings and made the decision to go back out there.

Q.  Your rotation has been so phenomenal.  Are you guys feeding off each other?  How do you feel about being up 3‑0?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Yeah, I said that before.  I think pitching is contagious, just like hitting is.  And, you know, we are all competitive guys.  We wouldn't be at this level if we weren't.  You see somebody go out there and have a good game, and you want to one‑up that guy.  He is your friend, I know, but it still gives you the urge to go out there and do better.
And I think that's a great thing when you can get your entire rotation doing that.  And I think we're starting to click at the right time.  The guys are getting healthy and starting to throw the ball the way we have been capable of all year.  But it's kind of been, you know, up and down.
What was the second question?

Q.  3‑0.
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  It's great to be up 3‑0.  We have to win one.  But against this lineup, against this team, you never know.  And I think the rest of the team takes the mentality that I take, that I took into this game, being up 2‑0, people asked me if I was comfortable, and I said no, because you have to treat this as a must‑win.  Every game in the postseason is a must‑win.  You have to keep momentum on your side.
And hopefully we can go out tomorrow and shut this down.  If it doesn't happen then, reset, and go out the next day.  Never take anything for granted.  In the postseason we have seen some crazy things happen in this game, and just try to win every single game one inning at a time.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Justin.

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