Justin Verlander needed 131 pitches, but the reigning MVP struck out nine in nine innings and picked up his first win in 2012. The 131 pitches was the third most Verlander has tossed in his career (he threw 132 in a regular season start against Boston last year and 133 in the playoffs) and the second most ever thrown by a pitcher in the month of April (Curt Schilling threw 133 in 6.2 IP on April 25, 2006).
Throwing a lot of pitches, even this early in the season, is nothing new for Verlander, so it doesn’t surprise me one bit that Jim Leyland let him trot out to the mound for the 9th at 104 pitches. In the middle of the inning, after Kansas City plated a run and put the tying and winning runs on base, it became a question of who would you rather finish it — Verlander on his normally high pitch count or a fresh Valverde? I really don’t think there’s a wrong answer there, but there shouldn’t be any controversy over Leyland riding or dying by his unquestioned ace.
Verlander didn’t disappoint in the 9th like his last start, either. He exorcised the demons and made the pitch he needed to give the Tigers their 7th win of the season. And it was 100 mph. In fact, every fastball he threw to Alex Gordon en route to striking him out was clocked at 100 mph. Not bad for an arm that was being left out to dry.
Of course, we could be talking about Verlander blowing his second straight gem of a start in the 9th if the sometimes effective Brandon Inge doesn’t hit a two-run homer in the top of the 5th innning. Inge broke the 1-1 tie by hitting a 400-foot homer off Royals starter Danny Duffy, his first hit in what might feel like forever.
Austin Jackson provided the other run before Verlander even threw his first pitch, as the Tigers’ fire starter homered to lead off the game.
Another pedestrian 2012 Tigers win, eh?
- Verlander is the first Tigers pitcher to start the season by throwing 8+ innings in his first three starts since Jack Morris did it in 1988.
- My brother pointed this out to me after the game: Verlander showed more emotion in closing out this game than he did in throwing a no-no last May. Verlander’s not used to being backed up against a wall like he was today and, like he said after the game, Verlander felt like he had to exorcise the 9th inning woes that befell him against Tampa Bay. He was pleased. We were all pleased.
- Miguel Cabrera is now OH for his last 21, two shy of his career worst hitless streak. More on this in a separate post probably. At least he’s playing a solid third base … hey, that kind of sounds like past defenses of Brandon Inge
- Jhonny Peralta had three hits for the second time this season. He had six 3-hit games last season.
- Danny Duffy is legit. I was wondering during the game if a team has ever faced a stronger group of starting pitchers in their first 10 games of the season (and start 7-3). Probably, but Lester, Beckett, Buchholz, Moore, Shields, Niemann, Peavy, Floyd, Sale and Duffy are all pretty strong.
- Gene Lamont had arguably his first egregious human windmill gaffe of the season in having Peralta test Jeff Francoeur’s arm in the 7th. Francoeur’s arm won.
- Ryan Raburn. 0-for-4. Small sample sizes and first halves. Maybe the Tigers should just let him hit in the cages under the stadium until the second half starts. Because then he’ll be worthwhile...
- I don’t have a link right now, but I’m looking forward to listening to Dan Dickerson’s call of the final out about 100 times on Tuesday. I heard it a few times on MLB Network and it’s fantastic, as is usually the case with Dickerson calls.
- I don’t have any cool GIFs for you, but here’s a guy I think we’ve seen around in recent years — Tiger guy: