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HOUSTON — The dire moments are casually
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February 11, 2019 - 10:06 pm

familiar for Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander Anthony DeSclafani Jersey , who many seasons ago assumed the responsibility bestowed upon a staff ace.Verlander (2-0, 3.18 ERA this postseason) will make his second start of the American League Championship Series on Thursday at Minute Maid Park in Game 5 against the Boston Red Sox. He is charged with logging another effective outing — that is the baseline requirement. Of greater importance is his role relative to the Astros’ hopes for repeating as World Series champions. With Houston trailing the best-of-seven series 3-1 and facing elimination, that responsibility is significant, but the series standing doesn’t weigh on Verlander or alter his preparation for his start.Article continues below …“I don’t know,” Verlander said. “I mean, these are all must-win games at this point. Every time you take the mound I don’t think there’s any difference whether it’s 2-2 or 3-1.”In the Astros’ 7-2 victory in Game 1, Verlander limited the Red Sox to two runs on two hits. But he issued four walks and uncorked a critical wild pitch that enabled Boston to tie the score at 2-all. Verlander labored a bit over his six innings, and while he recorded six strikeouts, he only managed seven swing-and-miss strikes over his 90 pitches. He was solid but unspectacular, and the second matchup against the Red Sox is a sure bet for another tough task.“Especially these guys, a team that’s really good at making adjustments, making adjustments quickly,” said Verlander, who is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA over four career postseason appearances against Boston. “There are definitely unique challenges. They know my strengths. They know my weaknesses. I know theirs.“And the second time going against a lineup…..all-jersey , you need to adjust. Or you don’t. I don’t know. That’s kind of one of those times when I like to rely on my instincts when I’m out there and just feel my way through a game.”The Red Sox will counter with left-hander David Price (0-1, 9.95 ERA over two starts this postseason) in pursuit of their first AL pennant since 2013. Price remains winless over 11 career postseason starts (0-9, 6.16 ERA) having not factored into the decision in Game 2 after allowing four runs on five hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings. However, with their 7-5 win, the Red Sox became the first team to claim victory in a postseason start made by Price.Price warmed up in the bullpen during the eighth inning on Wednesday, poised to bail out closer Craig Kimbrel if need be. Kimbrel scuffled, allowing a run on two hits and three walks over two innings but held fast and sealed the 8-6 victory that gave Boston a commanding series lead.“We know we’re up 3-1,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “But they’re a good team. They came back last year against the Yankees. They lost Game 6 of the World Series in Dodger Stadium and they won Game 7.“It’s not over. We know that. But to have a chance to finish (Thursday); that’s always good. We’re just going to show up (Thursday), get the information, play hard, and see what happens.” DENVER (AP) — The starters for Tuesday’s game between Pittsburgh and Colorado reads like this: Jameson Taillon vs. Chad Bettis.A more accurate description: Two starters bouncing back from testicular cancer.“Both healthy. Both in the big leagues,” the Pirates’ Taillon said. “Life’s good.”The Rockies’ Bettis underwent surgery in November 2016 for testicular cancer and continued cancer treatments through that spring and into last season. So when Taillon had surgery to treat testicular cancer on May 8, 2017, he had an instant line of support.“Baseball is a brotherhood. When something happens to our own Michael Lorenzen Jersey , everyone comes together — even more so when there are two people going through the same thing,” the 26-year-old Taillon said. “It made sense to reach out to each other and give our well-wishes and see if there’s anything we could offer up to each other.“I just felt like if I needed anything or had a question, I was very comfortable going to ask him about any part of the process.”Taillon did, too. Simple things: How often did you get your blood levels checked? What was the treatment like?“It was really nothing crazy, but that was comforting,” Taillon said. “He was months ahead of me and what I was going through. It was nice to have somebody I could ask questions.”Taillon’s eyes lit up when he heard that Bettis would come off the disabled list — Bettis has been dealing with a blister — to make the start. Bettis hadn’t been officially named the starter when the clubhouse was open Monday, but he did say how “cool” it would to face Taillon.“It will be really nice for that to happen,” said Bettis, who returned to the Rockies’ starting rotation on Aug. 14, 2017, after his recovery.Bettis hasn’t pitched for the Rockies since July 1 due to a blister on his middle finger. He’s tried every remedy, but it keeps bothering him. So the 29-year-old texted Taillon, who’s been dealing with a cut on his middle finger as well.“He had some good insight,” Bettis said. “There were a couple things he was doing http://www.rockiesfanproshop.c…..tis-jersey , that I felt we could try and see how it worked out. It was good to get some feedback.”Taillon’s advice? Use a finger sleeve and take days off. He also told Bettis how precisely he was clipping his fingernails.“But you can see I don’t have too much great advice,” Taillon laughed, showing off his cracked finger. “I’m still working through it. I’m still battling my own thing.”It took Taillon about a month to return to the mound last season after testicular cancer surgery. In his first start back on June 12, 2017, he threw five scoreless innings as the Pirates beat the Rockies.Later that season, Taillon got a hit off Chicago Cubs starter Jon Lester, a cancer survivor, and was chatting with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a teenager.“Rizzo looked at me and said, ‘Hey, there are three cancer survivors right here — me, you and Lester,’” Taillon recounted. “That moment was cool for me.“Facing off against Chad will be one of those cool moments.”

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