This has been such a remarkable regular season for Justin
Verlander, it’s almost sad to see it come to a close.
The only ones who don’t feel that way are his opponents.
In his final tune-up before the playoffs, Verlander will try to
become the majors’ first 25-game winner in over two decades when he
faces the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
Almost assured of the Cy Young Award and a candidate for AL MVP,
Verlander (24-5, 2.29 ERA) will open the division series Friday in
the Tigers’ first playoff appearance since 2006. A win over the
Orioles would make him baseball’s first 25-game winner since Bob
Welch went 27-6 for Oakland in 1990.
Verlander could also lock up the Triple Crown and become the
first AL pitcher to lead the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts
since Johan Santana in 2006. He has already clinched wins and
strikeouts and leads Jered Weaver in ERA.
“I said earlier this year, if you expect greatness, greatness
shouldn’t surprise you,” Verlander told the Tigers’ official
website. “And therefore, all the other stuff that comes with that
is easy to block out. And I’ve just kind of always had that
personality where I’m able to focus primarily on the task at hand
and not worry about everything else surrounding it.”
The Detroit ace dominated yet another opponent Sunday to win his
12th straight start, limiting Oakland to three hits over eight
innings in a 3-0 victory.
“He prepares as hard as anybody and can translate it into
action. His attention to detail is unbelievable,” catcher Alex
Avila said. “He’s been able to do exactly what he wants to do and
can make changes if he has to.”
No AL pitcher has won 13 consecutive starts since Ellis Kinder
of the Boston Red Sox in 1949. Kinder’s final win during his run
came against the Yankees on Sept. 24, exactly 62 years prior to
Verlander continued his mastery of the Orioles with an
eight-inning, nine-strikeout performance in a 7-3 win at Camden
Yards on April 6. He is 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA in eight starts versus
The Tigers (91-66) got a solid start from Rick Porcello and a
homer from Miguel Cabrera before Victor Martinez delivered a
run-scoring double in the 11th inning to seal a 4-3 victory over
the Orioles on Friday.
Cabrera is batting .407 with three homers and eight RBIs in
eight games against Baltimore this season.
Detroit kept pace with Texas in the race for the No. 2 seed in
the playoffs – and home-field advantage in the first round. The
Tigers hold the tiebreaker because they beat the Rangers 6-3 in the
“This was a good tonic for us and a good win,” manager Jim
Leyland said. “We needed to get this one, obviously, because Texas
was winning. We wanted it, and we got it.”
J.J. Hardy had three hits and two runs for the Orioles (66-91),
who had a three-game win streak snapped and lost for only the third
time in 11 contests.
Seemingly headed for 20 losses at one point, Baltimore scheduled
starter Jeremy Guthrie (9-17, 4.28) has been much better lately. He
won his third straight start, allowing four runs and 10 hits over
six innings of a 6-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at
Boston on Monday.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA in his past five starts
after going 0-2 with a 7.32 ERA in his previous three.
Guthrie usually pitches well against the Tigers but was tagged
for six runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings during a 6-5 home loss
Aug. 13. He is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA lifetime at Comerica Park.
Magglio Ordonez is 7 for 13 with a homer and three doubles