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Verlander tries to keep Astros alive

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

HOUSTON -- The dire moments are casually familiar for Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander, 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.

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NL Home Runs
Rank Name HR
1 N. Arenado, Col38
2 T. Story, Col37
3t M. Carpenter, StL36
3t C. Yelich, Mil36
5t J. Aguilar, Mil35
5t M. Muncy, LAD35
7t J. Báez, ChC34
7t B. Harper, Was34
7t R. Hoskins, Phi34
7t E. Suárez, Cin34
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NL Runs Batted In
Rank Name RBI
1 J. Báez, ChC111
2t N. Arenado, Col110
2t C. Yelich, Mil110
4t J. Aguilar, Mil108
4t T. Story, Col108
6 E. Suárez, Cin104
7 A. Rizzo, ChC101
8 B. Harper, Was100
9 F. Freeman, Atl98
10 R. Hoskins, Phi96
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