Oct. 15 Justin Verlander off day interview

Q.  You guys coming home 2-0 to the friendly confines of Comerica Park, can you talk about the excitement of being in this position right now?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Obviously we are excited as a team.  One, we played very well this year at home.  The fans are great and we're just comfortable here at home.  But, you know, we won two big games, but we have to win two more to advance to the World Series.

    And we're not taking anything for granted whatsoever.  We know what the Yankees are capable of, and we just take it one game at a time.  We try to win tomorrow.  If we win tomorrow, try to win the next day.  It's as simple as that, take it one game at a time and see what happens.

    Q.  I was thinking of six years ago your first postseason start being against the Yankees.  What do you remember about that game?  And how do the butterflies or the nerves compare for postseason start now to when you were a rookie there six years ago?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  To be honest with you, I don't really remember too much about it.  It was such a whirlwind really that entire season.  I remember standing on the mound in old Yankee Stadium, which in the postseason it was my first start in old Yankee Stadium.  And growing up as a kid you see all of the postseason games and all of the magic that had happened in that stadium, and it was kind of a surreal moment for me.

    But now, fast forward seven years, and it is a little bit different, but obviously there's still the angst and nervousness and just the pregame jitters.  But I feel like I have pitched in big games now and understand what my body's going to be going through and what my mind is going to be going through and I am able to rein it in a little more and use it more to my advantage than to have it be detrimental to me.

    I feel like a lot of times, you know, a lot of rookies kind of get jumped a little bit.  And I think you saw it with Anibal in his first start, and he got through it quickly in the first innings and got through it there and had a great last start.

    And I think getting big games under your belt I think really helps you in these situations.

    Q.  First, I know Roger Clemens is one of the pitchers that you admire.  And wondering how much you admire a guy like Roger or Curt Schilling, guys who have pitched all of their team all the way through the World Series title, pitched well in all three rounds, and how much you aspire to get the opportunity to do that.

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Obviously that's a dream of mine, to help pitch my team to a World Series championship.  And that's a big reason why I admire those guys.  You talk about Roger and Curt, and obviously everybody knows what they did in the postseason.

    I want to be associated with those guys, a guy that stepped up in the postseason for my team.  And I helped get us here to the second round, but my job is not over.  Once my number is called and it is my turn to go, I go out there and try to give us a chance to win.

    Q.  Looking at your history with the Yankees' lineup, the two guys that stand out from the Yankees' standpoint is A Rod and your old teammate, Curtis Granderson.  Just wondering if you can describe your experiences facing those two.

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  You know, obviously everybody in the lineup is a challenge, but I think when it comes to postseason baseball you can kind of write off past history.  You know, I think I am a different pitcher than I am in the regular season.  And, you know, you start with a clean slate.

    So I am not going to really worry about the past history of guys.  I will go out there and compete and try to make my pitches the best I can and see what happens.

    Q.  Through the postseason so far Cabrera has been a guy who has obviously hit fine, hasn't had that one kind of crazy game or two where he really carried the offense, you know, hit a home run, driven in four runs the way he did during the regular.  I'm wondering if that's just something you think it's only a matter of time with a guy like that, and if you think he's a guy who, especially when he got hits in the last two at bats yesterday, if he kind of seems poised at all to get going a little bit more offensively than he has been.
 
    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  I mean, first of all, I think it is a fantastic sign that we have been able to win these ball games without him having the type of games that we are accustomed to him having.  And, you know, I think that attributes, one, to the way teams have been pitching him.  They are not giving him a lot to hit.  They are trying to not make mistakes against him and not let him hurt them.

    But with his talent, he's going to have those games.  And it's great to know that one day he's going to break out in a big way.  Not that he hadn't yesterday.  He had big hits for us.  But we are winning these ball games without three, four RBIs.  It is a team effort.  If teams are going to try to limit him, it is great to see the guys behind him be able to get things going as well.

    Q.  Justin, people have always been so fascinated with your radar gun readings like in the first inning, what is he throwing, and watching him during the game and sometimes they increase and that sort of thing.  How do you come to grips with that in terms of...I know at times there are questions about do you throw 93 and 100 in the seventh or do you come out blazing.  Where do you stand on that right now in terms of how you approach it?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Right now in the postseason it is hold nothing back mentality.  Not really worry about pitch count.  Try to get guys out and keep guys from scoring.

    I am not coming out of the gates trying to throw as hard as I can, but I'm not holding anything back either.  I'm trying to find a good, comfortable rhythm where I can pitch at a decent velocity and hit my locations.

    And that's kind of the mentality that I've had.  I guess the summary of that would be what I said earlier, which is don't worry about pitch counts.  Get guys out the best you can and see where it ends up at the end of the day.

    Q.  I was wondering if you are aware of your home road splits and your ERA at home is like 1.65.  Is there a reason why you think maybe you pitched a little better at home this year?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  I think we played better as a team at home.  I can't pinpoint any reason why I pitch better at home, but...like I said, it is a clean slate in the postseason, and I think I pitched pretty good on the road my last start.

    Q.  The whole rotation has been amazing, you guys having an ERA under 1.  And we watch you in the clubhouse and in the dugout, and the guys feed off each other.  Talk about how this friendship and the respect you guys have for one another plays into this whole equation.

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  I think, first of all, we are an easy going group.  We don't put too much pressure on one another.  It's just we all tend to get along.  And I think pitching, much like hitting, is contagious.  And guys go out there night in and night out and see guys have a good game, and the next day he wants to have a good game, so on and so forth.

    And I think that's what we are feeding on right now.  We have a lot of confidence and a lot of faith in the next guy, and I think that makes it easier on the starting pitcher the next day when you know that the guy going next, he's been throwing the ball well, too, so you don't have a ton of pressure on you to go out there and be perfect.

    As a rotation, right now things are going well.  In the postseason that's what it takes, because runs are not easy to come by and you're facing better pitching.  And obviously, especially with the series that we have been playing, runs are scarce, so you have to take advantage when your team scores one or two or three and keep the other team off the board.

    It is nice to see us get rolling as a group, and hopefully we can continue it through the World Series.

    Q.  Just a follow up on the question about the way you are able to wrap up the velocity as the game goes on.  How are you able to do that, do you think?  If it didn't come naturally, how did you learn?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  I would say mostly it is natural.  I have been able to do that ever since I can remember, ever since I stepped on the mound.  But, you know, I think you can help to build your natural ability, you know.  I think a lot of the work I do in the offseason in my lower half and my core allows me to stay strong throughout the game so that I don't start to break down when I get to 100 pitches, that I am actually getting stronger.

    Q.  I wanted you to touch on this little Twitter thing you're doing where you reach out to fans to give away a couple of tickets.  Where did it come from?  How much does it mean to get the fans involved?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Just an idea that I had.  And I thought it would be nice to get some fans out to the stadium, you know, a couple of fans for every game that probably wouldn't have had the chance otherwise.  I know the tickets are pretty hard to come by, so obviously I am in a situation where I can get a couple of tickets where others may not be able to.

    But, you know, just a little way, I guess, to try to give back to the city.  And, you know, obviously I can't give tickets to the whole city, but just a couple at a time makes a big difference sometimes.

    So, like I said, just an idea that I had and, you know, it's kind of a fun little thing to do.  And I know it gets people excited to have a chance to win tickets to a big game, so I thought it would be fun.  So I went ahead and right when we made it to the next round I told our ticket office that I would like two tickets that I'm going to be giving away each game, and they were fine with it.  So I went ahead and went from there.

    Q.  Justin, I know his teammates have his back, but what can you tell us about the state of mind of Valverde?  And is there anything that you would want to say to fans that might deflect any negative reaction he might get if he takes the mound?

    JUSTIN VERLANDER:  Well, I mean, really honestly I would like to see no negative reaction.  I know as a fan you buy tickets and, you know, you buy the right to cheer and you also buy the right to boo.  But we are in the postseason, and, you know, every positive vibe that can help us possibly win is extremely beneficial for us.

    We saw it in Oakland with Coco Crisp, and I was amazed how their fans reacted to him because he dropped that ball in center field here at Comerica, and we go back to Oakland and I thought he might get booed, but he got the biggest cheer from the whole stadium.

    I would like to see that from our fans as well.  I know Valverde has been struggling, but it is not for the lack of trying.  And I think the only things fans can get upset at is lack of effort, and there has been none of that there with him.

    And like Skipper said, he is still our closer and we have a lot of faith in him.  I haven't seen his attitude change whatsoever.  It is the life of the closer.  Those guys are a little bit different.

    Whenever he comes into a game, whatever situation it is, we are positive about it and will be behind him 100 percent, and I think the fans should be as well.