Justin Verlander has not been at his best when pitching in the World Series during his career and it showed again Wednesday night in a Game 2 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Despite dominating in the regular season – possibly en route to yet another Cy Young Award – and moments where he was nearly untouchable in the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series, the Houston Astros flamethrower has come up short for his team when it matters the most.
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On Wednesday, Verlander became the first pitcher to lose his first five World Series decisions.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander tries to make a play on a ball hit by Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman during the fourth inning of Game 2 of the baseball World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
“We don’t dwell on win-loss record anymore, right?” Verlander told reporters, referencing the uptick in data-driven analytics that’s overtaken baseball and proven assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is a poor method of evaluation. “I’d like to win a couple. Hopefully, I’ll have another opportunity.”
Heading into Game 2 against the Nationals, Verlander had a 5.67 ERA in five starts with 30 strikeouts in 27 innings. He’s appeared in four World Series during his career – twice with the Astros, in 2017 (0-1) and 2019 (0-1), and twice with the Detroit Tigers, in 2006 (0-2) and 2012 (0-1).
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Against the Nationals on Tuesday, he surrendered four earned runs on seven hits in six innings. He allowed a key solo home run to Kurt Suzuki in the seventh which broke a 2-2 tie and jumpstarted a six-run inning en route to the Nationals’ 12-3 victory.
“In the regular season, you’re like, ‘OK, here it is, hit it, right down the middle.’ In the World Series, it’s a different story,” Verlander said. “You can’t really ever do that. You still got to hit your spots.”
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According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Verlander has allowed nine first-inning runs. The most for any pitcher in one postseason. He allowed two to the Nationals on Wednesday and four to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the ALCS, which he also lost.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.