HOUSTON – After winning all three games in Washington over the weekend, the Houston Astros can win the World Series on Tuesday night in front of their home crowd at Minute Maid Park.
They'll hand the ball to Justin Verlander, who has managed just a 1-3 record with a pedestrian 4.15 ERA in five postseason starts this playoffs.
On top of that, he's winless in six career World Series starts. His team has won just once in those six starts, while he's been tagged with the five times. His career numbers in the World Series reflect that record. He's allowed 24 runs in 33 innings, including seven home runs and has an ERA of 5.73 in starts for the Tigers and Astros.
Here's how each of those six starts and games played out.
Game 1, 2006 vs Cardinals in Detroit (Cardinals win, 7-2)
Verlander was staked a to one run lead in the first inning, but he was all over the place over five plus shaky innings. He retired the first four batters he faced, two with strikeouts, then gave up a game-tying solo home run to the Cardinals Scott Rolen. He then gave up three more hits in the third inning, the last being a two-run home run from Albert Pujols. He held the Cardinals down until the sixth inning when each of the first batters reached and two of those runners would score after he left the game.
Pitching line: 5 IP, 6 H, 7 R, (6 ER), 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HR
Game 5, 2006 at Cardinals (Cardinals win, 4-2)
Verlander was given the ball to try to keep the Tigers season alive and he pitched well, just not well enough. After he gave up a run in the 2nd inning, his team put two runs on the board in 4th to give him the lead. In the bottom of the fourth he gave it right back. He allowed two unearned runs, but they were both unearned because of his errant throw to third base attempting a force out.
Pitching line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, (1 ER), 3 BB, 4 K
Game 1, 2012 at Giants (Giants win, 8-3)
The Giants jumped all over Verlander and he lasted just four innings, the shortest World Series start of his career.He gave up two home runs to Pablo Sandoval and allowed an RBI single to opposing starting pitcher Barry Zito. His Tigers trailed 5-0 when he was pinch-hit for after four innings.
Pitching line: 4 IP, 6 H, 5 R, (5 ER), BB, 4 K, 2 HR
Game 2, 2017 at Dodgers (Astros win 7-6)
Easily his best start at that point in his career. He took a perfect game into the fifth inning, reitred the first 14 batters. But Joc Pederson broke up the perfect game with a home run, which wiped out the Astros 1-0 lead. The game was still tied 1-1 in the sixth when he issued a two-out walk to Chris Taylor. Corey Seager followed with a 2-run homer to put the Dodgers in front 3-1. His night would after six innings. The Astros rallied for runs in the 8th and 9th inning to force extra innings. Then got home runs from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa in the 10th, followed by a 2-run home run in the 11th from George Springer which finally gave the Astros the win.
Pitching line: 6 IP, 2 H, 3 R, (3 ER), 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR
Game 6, 2017 at Dodgers (Dodgers win, 3-1)
Verlander delivered another strong start, but another game in which he left trailing. This time he took a 1-hitter into the sixth inning, again trying to protest just a 1-0 lead. But four batters into the sixth inning, he'd allowed a single, a hit batter, and RBI double and a sacrifice fly which put the Dodgers in front. The Astros wouldn't score again and despite allowing just three hits over six innings, Verlander took the loss
Pitching line: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, (2 ER), 0 BB, 9 K
Game 2, 2019 vs Nationals in Houston (Nationals win, 12-3)
He was opposed by Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg and both pitchers were touched up for two runs in the first inning. Then neither of them were scored upon for the next five innings. Strasburg's night was done. Verlander's night included two more batters. He allowed a lead-off home run to light-hitting Kurt Suzuki to put the Nationals in front, 3-2, and then he walked Victor Robles. His night was done, but Washington would score six times in the inning and the game would end up very lopsided. With the loss, the Astros trailed in the series, two games to none.
Pitching line: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, (4 ER), 3 BB, 6 K, HR