That’s what you can call him after his brilliant performance tonight from innings 2-8. Justin Verlander proved in front of his home crowd that he is one of the best starting pitchers in the major leagues tonight. His rocky start giving up 5 runs on 6 hits in the top of the first inning against the last place Baltimore Orioles didn’t seem to bother him much. The ace of the Tiger’s pitching staff followed up the first inning semi-debacle with 7 straight innings of masterful shutout baseball, only allowing 3 more hits and striking out 8 giving his teammates the time they needed to find the bats (sort of).
The Tigers offense received an early wakeup call heading to the plate in the bottom of the first already down 5 runs with their ace on the mound. The Tigers needed base runners in the worst way and they got exactly what they needed from the top of the lineup. Granderson lead off with a triple, Polonco followed that up with a double, scoring Curtis easily. After a Clete Thomas walk, Miguel Cabrera doubled to deep left field scoring both Placido and Clete to bring the deficit down to only 2 runs. The offense seemed to stall out a bit after the first inning, but some clutch hitting in the later innings including a Cabrera solo homer to tie the game at 5 helped keep the Tigers in the game. The big blow came in the bottom of the ninth with two outs after a strikeout and groundout from Granderson and Polanco. That’s when young Clete Thomas stepped into the box and seemingly effortlessly tagged a pitch (on a rope) to deep center field barely clearing the 420 foot fence to seal up a much needed Tigers victory.
Justin Verlander turned one of the quickest 180’s you will ever see without watching the X Games, and even though he did not receive a win, Justin put on a pitching clinic that any young pitcher could have learned a great deal from. After giving up 5 runs in the first and having the crowd think it was time for late night batting practice, he proceeded to scatter 3 hits over the next 7 innings while striking out 8 batters in the process. Four of those seven innings went 1-2-3. That is what your number one pitcher is supposed to do, especially after the way the weekend series against the Cleveland Indians ended up. Jim Price basically called this turnaround from Justin in the second inning, saying he didn’t think the Orioles were going to get anything else tonight. Well he was right on, and if you don’t think this machine we call a #1 starter has what it takes to win a Cy Young award at some point in his career then maybe you need to take a closer look. He is on pace for his best season of his career (stats, not record). Baring any meltdown he will pass his career high in strikeouts in his next 2 starts at most, and is on pace to lower all his major statistics; including earned runs, hits, walks, home runs, and ERA, all this following his worst year as a professional, talk about another 180. Verlander The Resilient, sounds like a fitting name for his performance so far this season, let’s see how much he continues to impress.
Both the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins had off nights before each will begin 3 game series with the Angels and Indians. The win tonight extends the Tigers lead to 2 games over Chicago and 3.5 over Minnesota in the AL Central race.