5-0 with Astros, Verlander looks to postseason

Veteran righty likely to start Game 1 of ALDS, aims to keep feel on mound

5-0 with Astros, Verlander looks to postseason

ARLINGTON -- The next time Justin Verlander takes the ball for the Astros will be before a packed house at Minute Maid Park in the American League Division Series presented by Doosan. His five-start warmup to end the regular season couldn't have gone much better.

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Verlander held the Rangers to two runs and six hits in six innings and struck out 11 batters in the Astros' 12-2 win in Wednesday's series finale at Globe Life Park. In five starts since being traded from the Tigers on Aug. 31, Verlander is 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA. He's 10-3 with a 1.92 ERA in his past 16 starts overall.

"It wasn't my best, but these guys made it pretty easy on me scoring that many runs," Verlander said. "Obviously, pitch efficiency wasn't as sharp as I would have liked, but to get to six innings and two runs and get the win, it feels great. The one thing I would have liked to have done is gone deeper into the game, at least seven. That's just kind of nitpicking a little bit."

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Verlander (15-8) is the Astros' likely Game 1 starter in the ALDS, which starts Oct. 5 in Houston against an opponent that will be determined over the final games of the regular season. Verlander has started 16 career games in the postseason (7-5, 3.39 ERA), including Game 1 of the 2006 and '12 World Series.

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"I think he's ready to go," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They worked him pretty hard. His pitch count got up there higher than he wanted to. He had to work. He mixed in a few changeups today. I know one got hit out of the ballpark [by Willie Calhoun in the second inning].

"He continues to evolve as a pitcher and then closes his outing out as strong as he can be with some high-end stuff. I think again, as much as this is a tuneup for him to get ready for the postseason, he takes it very seriously. He came out and had a ton of energy, set a great tone and put some runs up on the board for them, and he never let up."

Verlander could have a week off between starts, so it will be important for the Astros that he doesn't lose any rhythm.

"I think that's the main goal, is just be able to keep your feel, be able to come into the start and be consistent," Verlander said. "As a starting pitcher, that's what it's about. I'm going to do whatever I can to help maintain my mechanics and the feel on the mound."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.