Justin Verlander is a sure-fire future Hall of Famer and arguably the best pitcher of his generation. He is now 0-5 in the World Series, the first player to ever drop his first five decisions. It doesn't make any sense. But that's baseball.
Verlander battled for the Astros in a must-win Game 2. He held the Washington Nationals to two runs in the first six innings, then hit a wall, allowing a solo homer to Kurt Suzuki and walking Victor Robles. Houston's bullpen and defense then imploded, opening the doors to a six-run inning and 2-0 series deficit.
The Fall Classic calamity continues for the righthander. In 2006 he went 0-2 as a young star for the Detroit Tigers in a series marred by the worst pitching defense in recorded history. In 2012 he played prominently in Pablo Sandoval's three-homer coronation and never got another opportunity. Two years ago he was serviceable, giving up five runs in 12 innings as Houston prevailed in seven games.
Down 2-0 against Washington, the veteran may not get to climb the hill again this year. And considering the fickle and razor-thin nature of these things, last night could have been his last World Series opportunity. From a neutral perspective, it's a damn shame of one of the sport's best competitors hasn't been able to perform on this stage.
Further confounding the issue is the fact Verlander has been spectacular in the other rounds of the playoffs. His 8-1 record and 2.52 ERA in the ALDS is stunning. He's 6-4 with a 3.13 ERA in League Championship play, but has a sub-1.000 WHIP. This particular brand of Kryptonite is different than the one that's plagued Clayton Kershaw, but similarly perplexing.
Verlander, of course, has the ring Kershaw, the other best pitcher of this time, is still searching for. That has to take some of the sting out of it.
A wise man named Dane Cook once said you can't script October. And perhaps the best evidence is how the main characters tend to break tendency and recede into the background. There's no logical reason for it, but here we are.