HOUSTON – The Houston Astros come back to Houston in the same frame of mind as before they left. It may sound hard to believe, but it's true. Now the team is one more good night of baseball from becoming champions for the second time in three seasons.
After losing the first two games of the World Series in Houston at Minute Maid Park, Houston went to Washington and took the next three games from the Nationals, while allowing just one run in each of the three wins. The team carried the same grind it out mindset on their way to 107 wins and now to within one win of the World Series title.
"We have some guys that are experienced in the World Series, for sure. So that's an advantage," Astros game five winning pitcher Gerrit Cole said.
"I think 'resiliency' is a great word. I think this club demonstrates that trait. And we've demonstrated that trait throughout the whole year. I think we drew a lot on our experiences throughout the season.
"This is a seven-game series, we just came off a seven-game series. Ultimately if you push these series deep, six, seven games, you're going to end up playing a lot of games in October," Cole continued.
"So we just take the mentality like we took during the regular season, we're just going to kind of put one foot in front of the next, respond to the challenges that come our way and you shower off the mistakes, and celebrate the amazing plays. Celebrate the amazing pitches."
Now they hand the ball to Justin Verlander who could be just two weeks from winning another Cy Young award. Though winning his first World Series game undoubtedly means a lot more to him than the Cy Young.
Verlander will be making his seventh career World Series start and fourth with Houston and is winless in those games. Now the Astros were able to win game two a season ago, but Verlander carries an 0-5 record as a World Series starter.
In Game 2, Verlander battled Nationals ace to a 2-2 draw through six innings. Unfortunately, Verlander allowed a lead off home run and a walk to start the seventh inning and the wheels came off for the Astros after that in their 12-3 loss.
The offense struggled in Houston in games 1 and 2, but scored 19 runs in the three wins in Washington.
"These guys all season long, offense comes and goes, you have slumps, but when they're clicking on all cylinders, it's pretty special to watch," Verlander said on Sunday before game five.
"Definitely nice to see a couple of guys to come up and come through in big moments. Offense is always welcome," Verlander added.
"I think hitting is contagious and when these boys are feeling the way they are right now, it's tough to get them out."
Teammate Gerrit Cole, who could hear his name called in early November when the Cy Young award is announced, is plenty of confidence in Verlander.
"In terms of Verlander, (I have) a high level of confidence. He's prepared. He's ready for this moment," Cole said.
"We've been communicating back and forth throughout the whole series on how we were going to make an adjustment to what we were seeing and how we were going to attack.
"It's going to be business as usual for him. He's going to set the tone for us. Hopefully we can back him up with some runs, and play some great (defense)," Cole added.
"But these next 27 outs that we're going to have to get to end up finishing this thing off are going to be the hardest that we've had to get all year. So we're going to need to rest up and prepare ourselves for that."