It wasn't easy. It was a battle for me all year long. But I felt like I was finally able to make a couple of adjustments that I was able to make and get myself to be more consistent.
Q. Justin, your manager said a few minutes ago that he could tell coming in you had that "look" about you before the game, that he felt like you had this performance in you. When did you get that feeling that you had what you needed here tonight?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: When I woke up this morning. You know, it's just you know a big game is comin'. I wake up and the only thing I'm thinking about is my game plan and visualizing and executing.
Obviously once you get to the park, it goes into a different mode. All the nerves and angst starts to build and I've been here before, there is nothing you can do about it. You've got to hone it and use it to your advantage.
Q. We talked before the series started about dealing with mechanics. While you're standing out there versus the last couple starts, we've seen just competing, getting after it and not being weighed down with thoughts. What's it like to go out there and stand and be "you" again?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It feels great. Nothing in the back of my mind except making my pitches. It's a good feeling. That's what I've worked so hard for this year, is to be able to get to this point. Knowing from jump street that things weren't right this year, I battled and was making end‑game and mid‑game adjustments, throwing multiple bullpens. You don't want to think about it too much, but it's hard to do when you're trying to find something to make it click.
But it was a good time to find it here this last month.
Q. I heard people tonight call you a "big game" pitcher. Do you consider yourself a "big game" pitcher when everything is on the line? No thought of a no‑hitter going through your head tonight?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Big game pitcher, that's something people want to talk about. I just go out there when my team needs me the most.
Obviously it's something that you dream about as a kid. It's a win or go home, you visualize when you're 10 years old in your backyard, Game 5, Game 7, gotta win. It's pretty exciting to have gone out there twice in that scenario and done a good job.
What was the second part?
Q. No thoughts of a no‑hitter?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Yeah, there were thoughts of a no‑hitter. I shoved those to the back of my mind. I think you see guys have no‑hitters late in a game and give up a hit and the wheels kinda fall off, and you get erratic and you see that all the time.
That being the case, I would have liked to have thrown a no‑hitter and it was the back of my mind, but you can't let that happen in this scenario. The game is too big.
There is so much other stuff going on that you can't let a hit late in the game change your focus. I stepped myself off the mound and told myself to refocus and execute. That was the word of the day for me in my head "relax" and "execute."
Q. You said last year Game 5 in Oakland that it was the best start of your career. How do you value this start compared to last year's?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: Pretty close. Obviously I would have liked to have gone nine, but I was running on fumes there, and I talked with Jim and Jeff about that and I told 'em, Hey, I'm getting a little low here. I said, I want to go back out there, though.
And Jim made an excellent point, and he said, I don't want to send you back out there and get somebody on base and bring in Joaquin with somebody on base and already in a little bit of trouble.
Typically, when you bring in a closer, you want to bring him in and let him do his job. That's what he's used to doing. He's in his comfort zone do that.
As soon as he said that, it made complete sense to me and I said, All right, sounds good.
Q. All your teammates around you dumping the nonalcoholic champagne on you, what does that feel like?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: It burns. Feels fantastic! No better feeling than to have your teammates surround you and pour champagne on you after a big game. Your emotions are running so high the whole game, and it's just kind of a sigh of relief after the game is over and you've won.
To have everybody support me, and obviously, you know, it's not just me, Miguel hit a big home run for us, that was a turning point in the game, and great defense behind me. For those guys to do what they did for me, means a lot.
Q. Several fans were trying to taunt you before the game. Did you pay any attention to it?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't pay any attention to it. I go up in the clubhouse and get out of this atmosphere and refocus between innings. When I come back down and this ballpark is unique the way you have to walk by the fans to go out to the field, so I'm walking by the fans and they're yelling as much stuff as they can at me. There were two or three in particular that I can remember.
I wish I could have gone back out there in the ninth and walked by them one more time and maybe said something.
Q. The photos that they were holding up, did you notice that?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I did notice that. No comment.
Q. Is there something about this park, whether it's the mound, the configuration, the environment that brings out the best in you?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I think the environment has a lot to do with it. I think it's very hostile and it's a lot of fun, really, to be on the mound.
Everybody in the ballpark, 50,000 are rooting against me, and yelling as loud as they can. That's fun for me. I enjoy that. I enjoy it just as much as being at home and having that atmosphere as well. You thrive off of it.
At one point they were chanting, "Let's go Oakland" and in my head every time that they said "Oakland," I said "Tigers".
Q. Game 2 you had some big strikeouts. This seemed so businesslike for you tonight. Was that just the attitude you took into the game?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: No, the emotional level was the same, but it was more businesslike because we got a lead early, not early but in the fourth inning, I think it was. So it was a level of focus saying, I can't allow them to score. As soon as the last out was made in the inning, it was like, Okay, refocus, go to the next inning.
Last time there was more emotion on the line because it was 0‑0, especially in the seventh when I made that pitch to get out of the seventh inning. If I give up a hit there, the game is over at that point.
So that's why I think you saw more emotion coming out of me on the field as opposed to this time.
Q. Bob Melvin and your manager talked about your fastball and how particularly good it was today. When did you make the decision you were going to go with that pitch mainly?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I don't think that's a decision you make until you're in the game. In the first or second inning, I noticed it had good life and guys were swinging at it and wanted to go with it. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
I was going to make those guys show they could do something with the fastball before I went to other stuff. Obviously I'm not going to throw 100% fastballs, you gotta keep guys off balance. When I needed a big pitch, that's what I went to because of the results I was having. This is a game of adjustments and you make adjustments in the game.
That was one of the things that I noticed that stuck out to me early on was how my fastball was affecting those guys or how they weren't hitting it or seeing it well. Stuck with it.