He had enormous pressure building up on his shoulders.
The start of his outing was not particularly promising, as he gave up a homer to Kyle Schwarber and didn’t look like he was in command of his pitches.
His fastball velocity didn’t appear to be there either.
But he gutted it out and gave his manager Dusty Baker five solid innings with just one run allowed.
Make that World Series record 1-6 now.
As it commonly happens with veteran pitchers, his velocity increased the deeper he pitched.
“Justin Verlander’s first three fastballs last night: 93.2 MPH, 93.5 MPH, 94.2 MPH. Justin Verlander’s last four fastballs last night: 97.0 MPH, 97.1 MPH, 97.0 MPH, 97.7 MPH,” Codify Baseball tweeted.
Justin Verlander's first three fastballs last night:
93.2 MPH, 93.5 MPH, 94.2 MPH
Justin Verlander's last four fastballs last night:
97.0 MPH, 97.1 MPH, 97.0 MPH, 97.7 MPH 😮 https://t.co/2M2cBf4hzs
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) November 4, 2022
Baker Had Confidence In His Ace
Naturally, he found better results at the end of his outing, when he found his footing and shut down the Phillies offense.
Verlander proved to himself and the world that he can also shine on the biggest of stages.
He had allowed five runs in five innings in Game 1 of the series, mainly because Baker left him in too long.
Last night, he was able to opt for the win and give his team five one-run innings because Baker also let him do it.
It has to be said: Baker’s long hook, which is essentially confidence in his ace, paid off this time.
Now, the Astros are one game away from winning the World Series in what has been an impressive year for them.
The Phillies are not done yet, though, and will keep fighting until the last out.