Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander put his performance against the New York Yankees on Saturday among the best of his career.
Verlander was on a mission while leading the Astros to a 2-1 win over the Yankees in game two of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).
The 34-year-old ace allowed one run and struck out 13 batters in a complete game in Houston. Verlander, who joined the Astros before the August 31 waiver-trade deadline, is now 8-0 since the move.
Verlander, a six-time All-Star and 2011 American League MVP, said it was one of his best outings.
"It's definitely up there, if not the top," Verlander said after the game.
"With everything that is going on, not just on the personal level but for the team, being in the Championship Series, and being a 1-1 game the whole way and being able to go nine and, man, just everything, it's definitely one of the most satisfying starts I've had in my career."
The wily veteran threw 124 pitches in game two, with 93 landing for strikes. Verlander used a combination of his mid-90s fastball and devastating slider to dominate the Yankees.
"I felt really good, really strong early and then in the middle innings kind of lost my slider a little bit, it was, threw a couple ones that were kind of flat, but once we got through those like fourth, fifth innings, everything kind of clicked after that and was just able to make my pitches," Verlander said.
"That's kind of what I kept telling myself. I don't try to see the big picture or let myself think too far ahead, it's just being in the moment, make your pitches and try to execute as long as you can until the manager says you're done."
Verlander was poised for a tough-luck no-decision before Carlos Correa plated Jose Altuve with a walk-off double off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning.
Despite the tough matchup, Verlander had confidence in his lineup.
"I think that's what this team has, it exudes confidence," Verlander said. "I think anybody can beat you at any time and I sat here a few days ago and was asked about Altuve for MVP and why I think he should or should not win, and a few of the things that I expressed, you've seen immediately in two games how he can, how there's so many different things he can do on the baseball field to help your team win on any given day.
"Whether it's with his glove or his bat or his speed or his mind, all of these things he excels at and today was an example of how he beat you with his speed and his bat. Yesterday his glove. It's just so many different things that he does so well.
"And then Carlos, I can't say enough about what a great player he is and I think what sticks out to me is how young he is and how poised he is at his age and how no moment is too big for him and that's a special quality that gets overlooked sometimes. But no two guys would you rather have in my opinion maybe in all of baseball to come up in that situation than Jose and Carlos."