The Detroit Tigers turned to their ace to finally beat the Red Sox tonight. The Sox had already swept the Tigers in a series at Fenway and were on the brink of doing it again in Detroit. Jim Leyland pulled out all the stops by letting Justin Verlander go 132 pitches deep into this outing. When Verlander walked Jacoby Ellsbury with 2 outs in the eighth, Leyland decided that Verlander didn’t have much left in him to get the third out and yanked him.
It was an interesting decision if it was in fact simply a manager thinking that his starter was fatigued. On pitch number 129 of the night, Verlander reared back and threw the ball 99 MPH. On pitch number 130, Verlander threw a curve ball that just missed for strike 3, but would have been impossible to get contact on had Ellsbury swung. All of this came after the game was delayed about an hour because of rain.
The numbers are what they are with Verlander. Since 2009, he and Tim Lincecum are the only two pitchers in the top 10 in strikeouts per 9 innings and innings. He’s given up less home runs per 9 innings than Roy Halladay and won the third most games in this span of time. That stuff is all wonderful, but after watching the stuff he had tonight, it’s amazing he hasn’t done more. At the outset of the season, Jon Lester seemed like a safe choice for the Cy Young. Tonight I’m going on record as saying that the award will go to Verlander. He isn’t done with flirting with no-hitters either.
- Hanley Ramirez came out of the game in the first inning today with lower back stiffness. He pronounced himself day-to-day after the game, but also said the injury was “bad.” Hanley was banged up for much of last year, and had his share of day-to-day moments. Hopefully this isn’t all too serious.
- Scott Kazmir allowed 8 earned runs in a minor league start. What a strange career.
- The Oakland A’s have activated Andrew Bailey, but apparently he won’t start out as the team’s closer. There is no quota on appearances or actual time that the A’s will use to decide when he will take over as closer. My guess is that as soon as someone falters the job becomes his, but I would avoid dropping Brian Fuentes if possible. This could last longer than we think.
- It looks as if Brandon Beachy will throw off a mound tomorrow. Jair Jurrjens was brilliant tonight for the Braves aside from one change up that was left up to Jay Bruce.
- Chris Tillman was sent down by the Orioles. He could be a reliever the next time he is playing for Baltimore because Brian Matusz will be in the rotation.
- John Danks had some words for Jose Bautista after Bautista slammed his bat down in frustration. Danks shared more of his thoughts after the game. To me, Danks is a frustrated player who is way out of line. Players come away from at-bats frustrated all the time and Bautista has a right to be upset at himself for missing a pitch to hit. That is his job regardless of the score. If Danks wasn’t en route to an 0-8 start, this whole ordeal wouldn’t have happened.
- Jonathan Papelbon had a 2.7 K:BB rate last year. Not bad, but a far cry from the player he was his rookie and second seasons with the Red Sox. This season he has 31 strikeouts to 3 walks and has blown just one save.
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