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October 14, 2013

Justin Verlander


Q.¬† The Red Sox, like the A's before them, really like to work at‑bats, extend the pitch counts, work you guys.¬† Does that affect how you approach a team like this at all?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:¬† No, I don't think it does.¬† Obviously most of the veteran lineups in baseball are guys that have professional at‑bats and tend to extend pitch counts and do all the little things that they can to get the starting pitcher out of the game.
I think the only way you combat that is be aggressive, throw a lot of strikes and pound the zone.

Q.  I know you weren't playing last night, as you're watching that game unfold, what's going through your mind?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Obviously that was a tough one.  At the same time you know this series is going to be a dogfight.  Nobody is going to walk over anybody.
In my opinion these are the two best teams in the American League.¬† We've made it to this point.¬† When we play each other during the regular season it was a dogfight.¬† At this point in the season nobody is going to give in.¬† Nobody is going to give an inch, even down 5‑1.¬† Those guys battled.¬† It was a heck of a ballgame.¬† Obviously it sucks to let it slip away.¬† This is baseball, you've got to reset and come ready to play the next game.

Q.  You guys professionally always have to turn the page, what did you see in the clubhouse after the game, on the flight back?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:¬† I wasn't there.¬† I took off early yesterday.¬† After getting in from Oakland at 10 a.m. and then after seeing a 1‑0 game take four hours the night before.¬† I went and talked with Dave and Jim and got their thoughts on whether they thought I should fly out early or not and make sure I got a good night's rest.¬† They thought it was a great idea.
As I saw that game unfold ‑‑ I was watching it last night.¬† I was thinking, this is going to go extras and turn into the LA game, and go 13 innings, and we're going to get in at 8 a.m.¬† I definitely made the right decision.¬† Those guys got in 4:30, 5:00 in the morning.¬† My parents flew with the team.¬† I think it was beneficial to go early.

Q.  How do you pitch to Victorino and how do you try not to hit him?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  I've seen some pitches that he got hit on that were strikes.  So, I mean, I don't think you can worry about that.  I think just whoever is the home plate umpire needs to be aware that he's up there.  Anything on the inner half occasionally he's looking to get hit.  He's up there, he's right on top of the plate.  And his arms are over the batter's box and over part of the plate.  If he doesn't get out of the way, there could be an occasion that it could be a strike and it actually hits him.
That's something that I think that those guys are aware of.  But you can't think about not hitting a guy.  You've got to think about executing your pitches and not changing anything because of that.  And hopefully if something like that happens those guys are on top of it.

Q.  Some of your teammates are saying, yeah, it was a tough loss, but the good thing is we've got Justin Verlander going tomorrow.  How do you feel about that kind of confidence and that kind of responsibility?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  You know, it feels great to hear that.  But I think that the great thing about this team is no matter what happens we can say that about the starting pitcher the next day.  Whatever happens tomorrow, we can say, it's all right, we've got Doug Fister going the next day, and then we have Anibal and then we have Max.
We've got a starting rotation that's relentless, and I said that before the series started.  Every guy has their unique ability to shut down a team in their own way.  Me, Anibal and Max are all power guys and then Doug who very sneakily can shut you down.  I've seen him strike out nine guys in a row.  It's nice to hear guys say that about me, but I'm just one of the four guys right now.

Q.  I'm sure you heard this before, on paper you weren't as dominant you were this season as you were in seasons past, what do you attribute that to?  And what did you have to go through, command issues or whatever, to get where you're pitching right now?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:¬† I attribute to it we're not robots, we're athletes.¬† You can't just say you're going to go out and be perfect, everything is going to be right where you want every time.¬† That's just the nature of this game, and specifically this game.¬† Guys have up and down seasons.¬† You can't just rely on athletic ability or whatever it may be.¬† There's a lot of fine‑tuned things that go into mechanics, not just pitching, hitting as well.
You look at the back of Hall of Famers and bubble gum cards, there's seasons that are down.  It's just kind of the way this game is.  It was a grind for me all year.  I could probably sit here and name 50 adjustments that I tried to make that didn't quite work or did help.  Who knows what helped along the way and what didn't.
But I really felt like the last month of the season I started to kind of get it to click.  And with all the adjustments that I made, and I talked about this a little bit before, with all the adjustments I've been making, when I'm out on the mound I've still got those in my head a little bit.  I try to shove them in the back your mind, you want to forget them and pitch.  When I know things aren't right and I'm trying to get them right, let's do this, let's do that.  I found the only thing is execution.  I feel like my mechanics are where they need to be and I need to execute.  Just forget about all that and just make my pitch.

Q.  You've won Division Series games the last couple years.  Ortiz has the reputation for coming through in the spot he was in last night.  Are you a believer that there are guys who perform better, are kind of clutch players or do you think that's kind of myth?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:¬† Absolutely I think there are.¬† I think David is a perfect example of that.¬† You look at what he's done for this organization.¬† In big spots he's the guy that you want up at the plate.¬† And I don't think it's necessarily being able to perform in the clutch, I think it's some guys let the game speed up on them, and others are able to slow it down.¬† Why that is, I don't know.¬† If you can figure that out you'll make a lot of money.¬† But it's just ‑‑ there's always been guys that have performed at a higher level under pressure.

Q.  You've obviously seen Miguel do a lot of things, drive the ball twice like he did last night, when he's still not that healthy.  Are you in awe at how he performs when not a hundred percent?
JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Yeah, I think he's getting better, just from me watching him and what little I know about hitting.  But I think the biggest indicator is that ball he turned on in Oakland, the game I started.  That was the first time I've really seen him get through the front side, get through his hip and turn on the ball like that.  Obviously BP is looking more and more impressive.  And what he's doing on the field is translating.
I still think he's the best hitter in the world even at not 100 percent.¬† At 80 percent I think he's that much better.¬† And I know I'm kind of biased in saying that, but it seems to me every time somebody new comes to this ballclub, Torii this year, guys last year, they always have the same reaction about Miggy, God, we knew he was good.¬† But ‑‑ there's always that "but," we didn't know he was that good.
Anytime anybody comes over, there's not a question in their mind after three or four weeks that he's the best hitter on the planet.¬† They had questions before, you'd see him three or four games at a time he might not do anything to blow your mind.¬† When you see him and get to watch him for a stretch, it's that impressive.¬† He's in our lineup at ‑‑ for a while there I'd say he was at 50, 60 percent, and still in our lineup and still hitting three, that says a lot.

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