Astros ace Justin Verlander remains well on his way to Cooperstown. But somewhat surprisingly, still missing from his distinguished 17-year career résumé is a World Series victory.
Verlander cruised through the first three innings of Game 1 of the World Series, retiring the first 10 batters he faced, but the magic of the perfect game ended when Rhys Hoskins hit a single in the top of the fourth inning.
And then everything unraveled.
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After Hoskins’ single, the Phillies combined for five hits in the fourth and fifth innings, including RBI doubles by Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto that erased a 5-0 lead solidified by two early Kyle Tucker home runs off Philadelphia starter Aaron Nola.
Then Realmuto, whose two-run double tied the score at 5-5, homered off starter-turned-postseason-reliever Luis Garcia in the 10th inning to secure the 6-5 lead and eventual win for the Phillies.
“Disappointing,” Verlander said in describing his performance Friday night. “My team gave me a five-run lead, and I wasn’t able to hold it. I feel really confident that 99% of the time that I’m able to hold that lead, and unfortunately today I wasn’t.”
Verlander’s World Series ERA is now 6.07, the worst ever among starters with at least 30 innings pitched in the Fall Classic. But he blamed no one but himself.
“I need to do better,” he said. “No excuses. I felt like I had some guys in good situations and just wasn’t able to quite make the pitches that I wanted to. A lot of credit to [the Phillies] as a lineup. They laid off some good pitches, and they were able to, when I did execute pitches, they were able to foul it off or put it in play and find a couple hits that way. Then when I did make a mistake, they hit it hard.”
Catcher Martin Maldonado also took ownership of the results, saying, “I needed to call a better game. And we needed to execute better pitches, together.”
With his no-decision Friday, Verlander remains 0-6 over eight World Series starts, the most career World Series starts without a win in baseball history.
Astros manager Dusty Baker said it was surprising to see Verlander, who is well on his way to his third Cy Young Award this season after an 18-4 record and MLB-leading 1.75 ERA, not be able to come out with a win after such a comfortable early lead.
“Usually two [runs] is enough,” Baker said. “We knew they could hit when they came in here; they’re known for that. They just took it from us tonight.”
“I have to give a lot of credit to those guys in the other dugout,” he said. “When I did make some pitches, they fouled ’em off or put ’em in play. And when I didn’t, they hit ’em hard. They’re a great lineup. They’re hot, and if you don’t make your pitches, they’re going to hurt you.”
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