As the Astros defeat the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS, Justin Verlander throws a masterpiece.

Texas City Five years have passed since it all started, along with one disputed World Series title

two pinstripe heartbreaks, and countless numbers of enraged supporters engaging in verbal and virtual combat

And yet, not much has changed.

In the American League Championship Series on Wednesday night

Justin Verlander started on the mound at Minute Maid Park against the New York Yankees

exactly like he did in 2017 and 2019, when the Houston Astros used their illegal sign-stealing plan and later had it exposed

Since then, they have grown to be the most despised club in Major League Baseball,

an unexpected development given that the Yankees frequently draw this criticism.

But one thing endures: Whether or not cheating batters are involved, Verlander is still the difference at 39 years old with a repaired right arm.