Tag Archive: Justin Verlander


Ryan Raburn (left), shown being congratulated by Austin Jackson (14) following his two-run homer, had four RBIs in Detroit's 9-3 win over the White Sox on Friday (AP)

Justin Verlander recorded his 1,000th career strikeout and limited the White Sox to just three solo home runs as the Tigers opened their three-game series with a win over Chicago.

Win: Verlander (2-2)

Loss: Mark Buehrle (1-2)

Hero: Ryan Raburn

Raburn went 2 for 5 with four RBIs to power the Tigers offense in the win. His two-run home run in the third put the Tigers ahead 4-0 and drove in what would prove to be the winning run. Friday marked the second straight contest in which Raburn homered.

Key: Raburn’s two-run homer was definitely the difference maker, but this was one of the best showings by the Tigers offense this season. The team generated runs throughout the entire contest with two in the second, two in third, one in the fourth, one in the sixth and three in the eighth. Casper Wells added two RBIs from the No. 9 spot, while Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta and Brennan Boesch also drove in runs.

Strong night: Other than allowing a pair of solo homers to Carlos Quentin and a solo homer to Paul Konerko, Verlander was dominant against the White Sox. Verlander struck out eight and didn’t issue a walk while tossing seven innings.

Up next: Vs. Chicago, 4 p.m. Saturday

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Thoughts on game 10 of 162

Rangers starter Alexi Ogando pitched seven scoreless innings, limiting the Tigers to two hits on Monday (AP).

For the second time in the past three days, the Tigers wasted a solid outing by a starting pitcher with its inability to put together anything offensively. On Monday afternoon, Justin Verlander put together another outstanding start but the offense wasn’t able to do anything in the setback to the Rangers, who are now 9-1. Verlander went the complete game, allowing just six hits, two runs while striking out four.

Hero: Alexi Ogando

In his second career start, the former outfielder who was turned into a pitcher by the Rangers, shut down the Detroit bats. He allowed just two hits and struck out four while pitching seven scoreless innings. Ogando’s start follows an outing in which he limited the Mariners to two hits in six innings. The only Tiger to get a hit off Ogando was Miguel Cabrera.

Key points: The Tigers had a chance to get something going in the fourth after Brennan Boesch drew a leadoff walk and Cabrera followed with a double to put runners on second and third with one out. Victor Martinez then hit a linedrive that Elvis Andrus retreated back to the shallow outfield to catch. He then doubled off Cabrera, who apparently thought the ball would drop in, to end that threat. Martinez also grounded out to end the game against Rangers closer Neftali Feliz with runners on first and second.

The two-run seventh inning for the Rangers obviously was big. Michael Young and Mitch Moreland had RBI doubles to right field for the Rangers.

Slump breaker?: Austin Jackson had the day off because he has been off to a cold start this season. However he entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth and had a line drive single to right field. The hit boosted Jackson’s average from .184 to .205. Besides he and Cabrera, Ryan Raburn had the only other hit for the Tigers on Monday.

Santiago time: We have yet to see much of Ramon Santiago this season but perhaps we should. Rhymes filled in in the leadoff spot today for Jackson and went 0 for 4, dropping his average to .182. With him and Jackson getting off to slow starts, that is a good reason to why the Tigers have been sputtering offensively. Santiago has made two starts this season and is 2 for 9 with a double and an RBI.

Thoughts on Game 5 of 162

Power surge: Alex Avila (right) hit a two-run homer and had five RBIs to lead the Tigers to a 7-3 win over the Orioles on Wednesday night. (AP)

Key players: Alex Avila and Justin Verlander

It was nice to see Alex Avila’s bat come to life. The Tigers catcher had quite the game and was a huge reason behind Detroit winning for the second time in its last three games. Avila had a key two-out, two-RBI double in the second inning that got the Tigers on the board, added a two-run home run that he crushed to right field in the fourth inning and then had a key RBI hit in the eighth that provided the Tigers with a key insurance run. Four of Avila’s five RBIs came with two outs. The catcher also stole a base

Verlander had another quality start (when a pitcher lasts  at least six innings and gives up three or fewer earned runs) for the Tigers, giving up just three runs in eight innings while striking out nine. He is the only Detroit starter to have logged a quality start this season.

Key sequence: Avila concluded a lengthy at-bat in the second inning with a key two-out double in the second inning was the key to the contest. Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta had each reached safely with two outs because of errors and the Tigers had to take advantage of the opportunity. They cashed in with Avila’s clutch hit.

Heating up: Victor Martinez had his best game of the season, going 3 for 5 with a solo home run and two runs scored. Heading into Wednesday’s game, the DH/catcher was hitting .176 with one homer through the Tigers’ first four contests. He followed Miguel Cabrera’s solo homer run (his third long ball of the season) with a solo homer of his own. It provided one of our first glimpses this season of how dangerous the middle of the Tigers lineup can be..

Grounded birds: Wednesday marked the first contest this season where the Orioles had allowed more than one run. Baltimore (4-1) had only given up four runs in its four games and the Tigers (2-3) nearly doubled that total in Wednesday’s game. Orioles starter Brad Bergeson only lasted 3 2/2 innings, giving up five hits and four runs (two earned).

Up next: at Baltimore, 7 p.m. Thursday

Thoughts on Game 1 of 162 for the Tigers

Hero: New York’s Curtis Granderson

Former Tiger Curtis Granderson's solo home run in the 7th inning broke a 3-3 tie and lifted the Yankees to a 6-3 win over Detroit in Thursday's season opener (AP)

Granderson was by far today’s most valuable performer. His only hit – a solo homer off reliever Phil Coke – was the one that broke a 3-3 tie and vaulted the Yankees to the opening day win. The former Tiger also made several big plays in the field – ones we were accustomed to seeing in Detroit – that helped the Yankees as well.

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First impressions

Justin Verlander carried a strong spring over into the season opener. His first start was a quality one – 6 innings pitched, just the three earned runs on three hits and eight strikeouts. Lone negative was the three-run homer he gave up to Mark Teixeira, the four walks and a 31-pitch opening inning. But the Yankees have a kind of lineup that is going to make you work.

– The bullpen wasn’t so hot today as it went three innings and surrendered three runs to the Yankees. Coke, who is temporarily being used out of the bullpen with the extra off days over the first week and a half, gave up 2 runs (1 earned) and Ryan Perry gave up one, Meanwhile the Yankees bullpen of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera combined for three scoreless innings and didn’t allow a hit.

– Victor Martinez, one of the Tigers’ big pick ups in the offseason, was 1-for-4 in his Detroit debut. He singled in the second inning.

– Alex Avila looked out of sync at the plate against CC Sabathia and fanned three times today. He also was a little shaky defensively. If Avila gets off to a slow start, you have to wonder how patient the Tigers will be with him. That also could change the lineup drastically with Victor Martinez probably catching more than a 1/3 of the games. That could open some at-bats for Brennan Boesch or Casper Wells as a DH or outfielder. Something to keep an eye on.

With that being said, this is just one game and most of Avila’s at-bats came against one of the best left-handed pitchers in the game. Facing CC wasn’t the best of matchups for him.

– Austin Jackson will need to cut down on the strikeouts. He showed some better pitch recognition this spring but opened the season by striking out three times

– The top three hitters in the Tigers lineup went a combined 1 for 11. Jackson’s single was the lone hit.

– A bright spot was the bottom of the Tigers lineup, which drove in 2 of the 3 runs. Jhonny Peralta had a sacrifice fly and Brandon Inge had a two-out RBI hit. Miguel Cabrera had the other RBI with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Raburn also had a nice diving catch in left field and went 1 for 3 with a walk

Up next: At Yankees, 4 p.m. Saturday

Verlander for Cy Young

Justin Verlander delivers a pitch during Sunday's game against the Chicago White Sox. Verlander led the AL with 269 strikeouts and 240 innings pitched and also tied for the league lead in 19 wins. With his two strong starts in must-win games for the Tigers, he should be the AL Cy Young winner. (Associated Press photo)

Justin Verlander delivers a pitch during Sunday's game against the Chicago White Sox. Verlander led the AL with 269 strikeouts and 240 innings pitched and also tied for the league lead in 19 wins. With his two strong starts in must-win games for the Tigers, he should be the AL Cy Young winner. (Associated Press photo)

When it comes to determining the American League Cy Young award winner, much of the talk centers around Kansas City pitcher Zack Greinke – and appropriately so.

Greinke started the season as the best pitcher in the game and jumped off to a hot start for Kansas City. He ended the year with an AL best 2.16 ERA, was second in strikeouts, but only had 16 victories.

After watching how things unfold over the final week of the season, in my opinion, there is no question that Detroit’s Justin Verlander is a better candidate for the award than Greinke and the other contenders (C.C. Sabathia, Felix Hernandez).

Verlander was a true ace and came up huge in the biggest games of the season for his team. Following an opening game of a doubleheader loss to Minnesota last Tuesday, Verlander came through in the nightcap and pitched the Tigers to a win. He pitched eight strong innings and struck out eight to help the Tigers to a 6-5 win over the Twins and maintain a two-game division lead.

Then on Sunday – with his team on the heels of three straight losses and in a first-place tie with the Twins – Verlander pitched seven scoreless innings against the White Sox. He ended up giving up a few runs in his final inning of work, but he saved the day and helped the Tigers live to see another day. With Minnesota winning, the Tigers now get to play in tonight’s tiebreaker for the AL Central crown.

A Cy Young candidate not only comes through in his team’s biggest games, but also has the numbers to back it up. Verlander led the American League in innings pitched (240), strikeouts (269) and was tied for the lead in victories (19). He also ranked among the leaders in ERA (3.45, 6th in AL), complete games (3, 5th in AL) and WHIP (1.18, 5th).

Meanwhile Greinke didn’t fare as well in his big start over the final week of the season. In his final start on Saturday against the Twins, he didn’t perform well in front of a national audience. In six innings, he gave up four runs and six hits and didn’t factor into the decision. Greinke did pitch five shutout innings before giving up the runs, but couldn’t come through in the big situations in what he labeled his biggest start of the season. Greinke did go 5-1 over his final 10 starts of the season and did beat the Twins five days before Saturday’s start against them.

Here is looking at the other top contenders numbers.

VERLANDER – 19-9, 269 strikeouts (leads AL), 3.45 ERA, 1,18 WHIP, 240 IP

GREINKE – 16-8, 242 strikeouts, 2.16 ERA (leads AL), 1.07 WHIP (leads AL), 229 1/3 IP

F. HERNANDEZ  – 19-5 (had top winning percentage in AL), 217 strikeouts, 2.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 238 2/3 IP

SABATHIA – 19-8 (tied for AL lead in wins w/ Verlander, Hernandez), 197 strikeouts, 3.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP,  230 IP

Porcello has been great

Detroit Tigers rookie Rick Porcello prepares to fire a pitch during an interleague contest against the Chicago Cubs in June.

Detroit Tigers rookie Rick Porcello prepares to fire a pitch during an interleague contest against the Chicago Cubs in June.

Rick Porcello has had an excellent rookie season for the Detroit Tigers. He leads all American League (and MLB) rookie pitchers with 13 victories after outdueling Toronto rookie Ricky Romero and helping the Tigers earn a badly needed victory on Sunday. Detroit ended a five-game slide with their win over the Blue Jays.

His contributions have been invaluable this season and without him, the Tigers likely wouldn’t be leading the AL Central and in position to make the playoffs this late in the year. Porcello has made the kind of impact that Justin Verlander made for the Tigers in 2006 during his rookie season. Verlander was a valuable arm that helped the Tigers get the AL Wild Card and reach the World Series that year.

Looking around the Tigers rotation this season, Porcello has been one of three reliable arms. The other two spots in the rotation haven’t been great which is why Porcello has meant so much.  Armando Galarraga hasn’t been great, Dontrelle Willis couldn’t find the strike zone again when he had his opportunity. Luke French was decent before being traded to Seattle, but his replacement Jarrod Washburn hasn’t been great at all since being acquired by the Tigers in that deal.

Detroit rookie Rick Porcello is 13-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 27 starts this season for the Tigers. He leads all MLB rookie pitchers in victories. (Associated Press)

Detroit rookie Rick Porcello is 13-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 27 starts this season for the Tigers. He leads all MLB rookie pitchers in victories. (Associated Press)

All of that just highlights Porcello’s value. Other than a couple of bad starts in July, and a couple of short/rough outings against Boston and the New York Yankees earlier in the season, the rookie has been great.

Will all of his success equate to him being like Verlander and earning Rookie of the Year honors in the AL? That seems very iffy. Looking at numbers, Tampa Bay’s Jeff Niemann has the better figures. Romero’s numbers are very similar to Porcello, but there also have been some great rookie hitters in Texas’ Elvis Andrus and Chicago’s Gordon Beckham.

Here are the numbers of who I believe  are the leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year

PORCELLO –  13-8, 4.21 ERA,  78 Ks, 45 BBs in 147 2/3 IP, 151 hits allowed

NIEMANN –  12-5, 3.57 ERA, 106 Ks, 50 BBs in 161 1/3 IP, 157 hits allowed

ROMERO – 12-8 , 4.22 ERA, 119 Ks, 68 BBs in 153 2/3 IP, 164 hits allowed

ANDRUS – .277 batting avg, 26 SBs, 33 RBIs, 14 2Bs, 8 3Bs, 6 HRs

BECKHAM – .279 batting avg., 53 RBIs, 25 2Bs, 1 3B, 11 HRs

There have been other solid rookies like Chicago’s Chris Getz, Baltimore’s Nolan Reimold and Tampa Bay’s David Price, but I think Porcello has probably been the most important to his team. Niemann has been valuable as well as Tampa Bay has been in the hunt for the wild card but is fading and Andrus has been up for Texas all year and has them still in contention for the postseason. Romero and Toronto aren’t going to the postseason, while Beckham and the Chi Sox still could theoretically catch the Tigers too.

It will be interesting to see who gets the nod in the AL for this award and my guess would probably be Niemann or Andrus get this award. But Porcello’s value to his team has been just as important if not more despite him not having the stats.