Astros' Verlander eager for shot at World Series title

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Houston Astros acquired Justin Verlander in the hopes that he would be the final piece to their World Series puzzle and now the veteran right-hander will get a chance to lead his team to a maiden championship.

Houston lead the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in the best-of-seven World Series and will just happen to have the postseason's hottest pitcher on the mound when the Fall Classic resumes on the West Coast on Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: Man steals World Series HR ball from fellow fan, throws it back

"These are what it's all about," said Verlander. "These are the moments that you want to be a part of as a baseball player. It's everything you could ask for."

Verlander, who has yet to win a World Series, has already exceeded expectations when the Astros acquired him a mere minutes before the trade deadline at the end of August.

The 34-year-old former ace of the Detroit Tigers staff has started nine games for the Astros over the last two months and won them all. He even pitched once in relief, and Houston won that one, too.

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Justin Verlander through his career
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Justin Verlander through his career
DETROIT - APRIL 10: Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers watches from the dugout during the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on April 10, 2006. The White Sox defeated Tigers, 5-3. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of their MLB interleague baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago June 17, 2006. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)
Detroit Tigers starter Justin Verlander pitches to the New York Yankees during Game 2 of their American League Division Series playoff baseball game in New York October 5, 2006. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander speaks as he is announced as starting pitcher for Game 1 of the World Series prior to practices in Detroit, October 20, 2006. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander walks to dugout after striking out in fifth inning against the St Louis Cardinals in Game 5 in Major League Baseball's World Series in St Louis October 27, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander waves a towel at the fans, that he used to wipe shaving cream off him smeared on by teammate Todd Jones, following Verlander's no-hitter victory over the Milwaukee Brewers during their Interleague MLB baseball game in Detroit, Michigan June 12, 2007. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander winds up a first inning pitch against the Kansas City Royals during the Royals Home Opener MLB American League baseball game in Kansas City, Missouri, April 5, 2010. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander stands on the field with former Tigers pitcher Virgil Trucks during a pre-game ceremony before their American League MLB baseball game against the Boston Red Sox in Detroit, Michigan July 8, 2007. Verlander threw the first no-htter last month in Detroit since Truck's no-hitter against the Washington Senators in Detroit in 1952. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander smiles after he threw a complete game no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays in their MLB baseball game in Toronto May 7, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (CANADA - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (L) and Victor Martinez celebrate after their team defeated the New York Yankees in Game 5 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoffs at Yankee Stadium in New York, October 6, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge (L) and pitcher Justin Verlander watch the action against the Texas Rangers during the eighth inning of Game 6 of MLB's ALCS baseball playoffs in Arlington, Texas, October 15, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is congratulated by manager Jim Leyland after pitching a complete game against the Kansas City Royals during their MLB American League baseball game in Kansas City, Missouri, April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Dave Kaup (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander pitches against the Boston Red Sox in the first inning at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts May 29, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander heads in from the bullpen for the start of Game 1 of the MLB World Series baseball championship against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, October 24, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander celebrates in the locker room after they defeated the Oakland Athletics during Game 5 in their MLB ALDS playoff baseball series in Oakland, California October 11, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander sits in the dugout during the second inning of their MLB American League baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas May 16, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Apr 8, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander (35) prior to the game against the Minnesota Twinsat Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the second inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Model Kate Upton (L) and Major League Baseball pitcher Justin Verlander (R) pose at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Art+Film Gala in Los Angeles, October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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Astros manager A.J. Hinch, when asked if Verlander fits into his description of a "big-game pitcher", said the co-ace of his staff fits into a lot of categories given an ability to block out distractions and execute pitches no matter the stage.

"I like more calling these guys big-time pitchers before the game, because that's what we expect. We expect them to prepare the same. We expect them to show up ready to play. We expect them to produce the executed pitches," said Hinch.

"When you can do that on this kind of stage you're called a big-time pitcher regardless of your performance. But oftentimes these guys step up and deliver big-time results, too."

Verlander is one of just three active players on the Astros and Dodgers rosters with previous World Series experience. He reached the Fall Classic twice with Detroit in 2006 and 2012 but did not pitch particularly well either time.

But the six-time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner as the American League's best pitcher has since seemingly always managed to find another gear in pressure-packed situations.

Verlander did just that in the American League Championship Series when, with the Astros facing elimination, he stepped up to the challenge by pitching seven shutout innings in a 7-1 victory that forced a decisive seventh game.

He attributes part of his success to being able to manage his intensity level during the regular season when the stakes are not as high and therefore allowing him to find another gear come the postseason.

"You can't focus that much mental energy and physical drain on hanging on every single pitch that way and the crowd and the intensity, that it all encompasses, you just can't do that every single day out for 34, 35 starts," said Verlander.

"But as soon as the postseason starts you're living or dying on every single pitch, and your whole team is living or dying on every single pitch. It changes everything."

See the best photos from the World Series so far: 

25 PHOTOS
The best photos from the 2017 World Series
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The best photos from the 2017 World Series
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run on a RBI single hit by Enrique Hernandez #14 (not pictured) to tie the game 5-5 during the tenth inning as Brian McCann #16 of the Houston Astros is unable to make the tag in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers licks his bat during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Joc Pederson #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after hitting a solo home run during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Oct 28, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Joc Pederson (31) hits a three-run home run against the Houston Astros in the 9th inning in game four of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 24: Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros throws a pitch during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game one of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers loses his hat as he attempts to catch a RBI single hit by Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros (not pictured) during the third inning in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Carlos Correa #1 and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros celebrate after hitting solo home runs during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores a run on a RBI single hit by Enrique Hernandez #14 (not pictured) to tie the game 5-5 during the tenth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros celebrates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run during the eleventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 25, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Yuli Gurriel #10 of the Houston Astros hits a solo home run during the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Josh Reddick #22 of the Houston Astros slides in to home plate during the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers scores on a wild pitch by Brad Peacock #41 of the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in game three of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 28: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he hits a RBI double during the ninth inning against the Houston Astros in game four of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 28, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros dives and fails to make a catch on a RBI triple by Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (not pictured) during the seventh inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 29: Cody Bellinger #35 of the Los Angeles Dodgers gestures after hitting a three-run home run during the fifth inning against the Houston Astros in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Oct 29, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger (35) climbs into the stands to catch a foul ball hit by Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (not pictured) in the 9th inning in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros hits a game-winning single during the tenth inning against Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with teammates after hitting a game-winning single during the tenth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: Derek Fisher #21 of the Houston Astros slides in to home plate scoring the game winning run during the tenth inning against Austin Barnes #15 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2017 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2017 in Houston, Texas. The Astros defeated the Dodgers 13-12. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros center fielder George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates Jose Altuve (27) , Alex Bregman (2) and Marwin Gonzalez (9) after hitting a two-run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (10) celebrates after forcing out Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (5) in the 9th inning to win game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros pitcher Charlie Morton (50) and catcher Brian McCann (16) celebrate with teammates after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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