HOUSTON -- After collecting his MLB-leading 12th win Saturday, Justin Verlander wasn't ready to reflect on how far he's come this season.
But the 39-year-old did take a moment to note how his almost two-year absence from the game after Tommy John surgery has made him appreciate his success a bit more.
"I've said the word 'perspective' here a lot, and I don't take it for granted," he said. "I think in the past I took a lot of things for granted, my health and some success when I was young, certainly not since I've been an Astro. But I think age and going through some stuff has a way to help you grow up and realize some real positives that maybe you wouldn't have taken a moment to realize before."
Verlander, who leads all active players in strikeouts, now has 3,121 in his career, moving him past Curt Schilling (3,116) and Bob Gibson (3,117) into 14th place on the all-time list.
Verlander (12-3) allowed six hits without a walk and lowered his ERA to 1.89, which ranks third in the majors. Phil Maton, Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu each pitched a scoreless inning to complete the shutout against the team with the AL's worst record.
Verlander was selected to his ninth All-Star Game and will attend next week's festivities in Los Angeles but will not pitch in the game Tuesday after throwing 106 pitches Saturday.
"He has that inner drive that you can't really teach somebody, especially with a guy that's had the success that he's had," manager Dusty Baker said. "A lot of people would have just called it in but this guy, he loves to pitch and he loves to compete. We're glad that he's put in the time and effort and glad that we've got him back."
Added catcher Martin Maldonado: "That guy, I feel like he's 25 years old."
Verlander laughed when told of Maldonado's assessment of him.
"I appreciate it," he said. "There's a lot of hard work that goes into trying to fight the good fight and rage against the dying of the light as long as possible. And I'll continue to do that as long as I possibly can."
Five of the six hits Verlander allowed were singles and the only time the Athletics got more than one hit in an inning came when Dermis Garcia and Nick Allen hit consecutive singles to start the fifth. But Vimael Machin grounded into a double play before Verlander retired Ramon Laureano to end the threat.
"That's classic Justin," Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. "Life on the fastball and he threw a lot of breaking balls today."