PHILADELPHIA — Justin Verlander will have a difficult second act to follow.
Not only will he be back in search of his first World Series win Thursday night, but he’ll take the mound against Philadelphia after four Houston teammates combined to pitch the second no-hitter in the Fall Classic.
“He’s one of the best,” Phillies slugger Bryce Harper said after Houston’s 5-0 win on Wednesday that tied the series 2-2.
Verlander couldn’t hold a five-run lead in Game 1, and the Astros lost 6-5 in 10 innings. The loss left him 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts.
The 39-year-old ace, the favorite to win his third Cy Young Award in a few weeks, has the highest ERA of pitchers who pitched at least 30 innings in the Fall Classic.
“On the second round of the lineup they made some adjustments and were able to do a better job of doing damage against decent shots,” Verlander said before Game 4. “And when I made mistakes, they punished. And then things got worse.”
Perfect over three innings, Verlander gave up an RBI single to Nick Castellanos and a two-run double to Alex Bohm in the fourth, then another two-run double off JT Realmuto in the fifth.
“I’ve been at this for a long time. It’s a lot of games,” Verlander said. “Everything has happened to me, well not everything. There’s always something new happening in this sport. It’s an old adage, anyway. went wrong”.
They’ll be up against a Phillies that haven’t had a hit since Castellanos singled to lead off the sixth inning of Game 3. Before Cristian Javier and three relievers combined to shut out Philadelphia on Wednesday night, the World Series had just one no-hitter on its record — Don Larsen’s perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers. in 1956.
Verlander insisted he was one game away from the elusive first World Series victory.
“I’m not going to feel bad because they beat me up,” he said. “I have to keep a positive attitude.”
Verlander went 18-4 and led the majors with a 1.74 ERA this year in his return from Tommy John surgery.
Acquired by the Astros in a trade with Detroit in 2017, he is in free agency and could make his final start with Houston.
“It’s premature,” he said. “It’s really been a great experience no matter what, whether I stay or not. And I’ve really enjoyed my time with this group of players and in the city.”
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Verlander goes for his 1st World Series win again