Justin Verlander is taking the hill for the Astros with the chance to win the MLB World Series and that is exactly what Houston wants. But could manager A.J. Hinch have another ace up his sleeve to help close out six game? He is certainly not ruling it out.
The Astros lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 following Sunday's thrilling 13-12 walk-off victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I think it's a possibility," Hinch said Tuesday. "I think all bets are off. You just try to win the game. I think saving things for the unknown is probably not the way to go."
But first and foremost, game six starts with Verlander.
The Astros acquired the 34-year-old starting pitcher at the trade deadline for games just like this one. He 9-0 in 10 games (nine starts) with 72 strikeouts since arriving from the Detroit Tigers.
"There's something different when you put a major piece like that in your clubhouse," Hinch said. "And I think his presence alone gave guys hope and belief that things were going to be good for us when we had two months left in the season.
"We hadn't won the division or done anything yet. But I think his demeanour, his preparation, his personality, his performance, all raised the bar for the organisation. And I think we expected that. We knew he would have a big role on this team."
Verlander said he came to Houston to win a World Series prior to his game-six win over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series and he has a chance to be the winning pitcher on Tuesday.
"I think this stage is set," Hinch said. "Obviously he's such a big-time pitcher. And we want him to step up and do well. And he's prepared to do that. I think being the pitcher in the game-clincher -- or the division-clincher, was too good to be true. It happened and he pitched great. The Game 6 against the Yankees, where we needed him to get us to a game seven he stepped up, he was big.
"Why not have a third time where we've needed him to step up and lead this energy that's going to be in our dugout? We have nobody better to have there."
Verlander has not lost an elimination game since he was a rookie in 2005. He now has a chance to eliminate the Dodgers.
"I've waited my whole life for this," Verlander told USA Today. "It's everything I always wanted. You dream of a night like this."
|Padres pitcher Ross´ no-hit bid steals spotlight|
|White Sox´s Farquhar faints in dugout, taken to hospital|
|Arrieta settling in as Phillies ace after Philadelphia win|
|Grand slams, walk-off hits highlight Blue Jays and Red Sox wins|
|Twins place Byron Buxton on 10-day DL with migraines|
|Lindor sends native Puerto Rico into frenzy with HR|
|Brewers´ Yelich, Cubs´ Rizzo activated from DL|
|Reds end losing streak with scoring outburst against Brewers|
|Blue Jays-Royals cancelled by roof damage from falling ice|
|Phillies, Pirates continue early-season surprise|
|Colon loses perfect game in eighth inning|
|Cubs stun Braves with 12-run rally, Mets´ streak ends|
|Brewers won´t activate Yelich from DL when first eligible|
|Cole sets strikeout record in third start for Astros|
|WATCH: Pirates allow three runs to score on fly out|
|Blue Jays star Donaldson placed on 10-day DL with shoulder injury|
|Arenado, Perdomo suspended for five games after brawl|
|Pirates, Angels continue to make statements in MLB|
|Cora: I didn´t like Yankees coach Nevin screaming at me|
|Kelly hit with six-game ban, Austin suspended for five after Red Sox-Yankees brawl|
|Sanchez, Stanton power Yankees past Red Sox in heated game|
|Dodgers awarded 2020 MLB All-Star game|
|Mets, Red Sox continue red-hot starts in MLB|
|Max Scherzer steals first career base while tossing shutout|
|Red Sox stay hot for best start in franchise history|
|Yankees star Stanton says historically poor start just ´a bad week´|
|Red Sox win 7th straight, Cubs victorious as Ian Happ breaks slump|
|Pirates, Braves win again as good starts continue|
|Orioles overcome Judge homer to end skid|
|Tim Tebow hits home run in first Double-A at-bat|
|Cardinals´ Martinez bounces back in win over Brewers|
|Mets set to activate All-Star Conforto from DL|
|Rockies, Blackmon agree to six-year extension|
|Braves enjoy slug-fest win over Nats, Shohei Ohtani hits first HR|
|Yankees fans boo Giancarlo Stanton after five-strikeout debut in New York|
|Blue Jays star Donaldson back at third base after ´dead-arm´ phase|
|Ramirez, Betts home runs help Red Sox power past Marlins|
|Cole excels in Astros debut, Berrios hurls shutout|
|Angels´ Shohei Ohtani works around early mistake in solid MLB pitching debut|
|Cubs prevail in extra innings again, Phillies using all their pitchers|
|WATCH: Blue Jays´ Pillar steals second, third and home in two-minute span|
|Scherzer dominates Reds in season debut|
|Stanton blasts two home runs, Red Sox in meltdown|
|WATCH: Cubs hit home run on first pitch of MLB season|
|Royals catcher Salvador Perez tears MCL carrying luggage|
|MLB 2018 Preview: Five American League storylines to watch|
|MLB 2018 Preview: Projecting the American League|
|MLB 2018 Preview: Projecting the National League|
|MLB 2018 Preview: Five National League storylines to watch|
|Trouble Brewing: New York Yankees beer gimmick to stop|
|Dodgers-Angels game abandoned after sewage leak|
|D-backs make OF Yasmany Tomas one very expensive minor-leaguer|
|Rangers coach Johnson fractures cheek|
|Cardinals without hamstrung Wainwright for opener|
|Mets´ Conforto to start MLB season on DL|
|Rangers coach Johnson hit in face by foul ball|
|Giants lose Bumgarner, Samardzija to injuries days before season opener|
|Oakland Athletics allowing fans to pick price of tickets, all proceeds to charity|
|Trout, Angels brass confident Shohei Ohtani will be a star|
|I wish I could still play with him – Ortiz on Red Sox addition Martinez|
|Rangers´ Perez slaughtered, ate bull that caused broken elbow|
|Braves phenom Acuna to start season in minors|
|Jake Arrieta pens heartfelt letter to Cubs after joining Phillies|
|Royals RF Bonifacio handed 80-game ban after testing positive for steroids|
|Cubs star Baez dealing with hamstring tightness|
|Syndergaard strikes out seven straight against Nationals|
|Kershaw couldn´t ´care less´ about facing Ohtani|
|Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners finalise ´homecoming´ deal|
|Cubs´ Darvish, Morrow looking to bounce back from World Series disappointment|
|Tim Lincecum ready for bullpen role with Rangers|