Saturday, May 27, 2006

Verlander Tops Indians, Tigers Win 8th Straight

The Tigers beat the Indians 3-1 today behind another impressive performance from Justin Verlander. Verlander pitched 7 strong innings and left with a 2-1 lead. Fernando Rodney and Todd Jones each pitched a scoreless inning to finish it off. Magglio Ordonez provided all the offense they needed with a two run home run in the first inning. Curtis Granderson doubled and scored on a single by Placido Polanco to add an insurance run in the 8th. Defensively, they were fantastic again especially in the infield. They turned 4 double plays and made a number of other fine plays.

At the end of the game, Rod Allen said that Verlander looked like a 10 year veteran. That sounds like a cliche but I've been thinking the same thing about him lately. With his blister now healed, he seems to have command of all his pitches now. He doesn't pitch like a raw rookie at all. Unlike a lot of young pitchers, he seems to pace himself out there saving his high hard one for key spots. He never ever seems to get ruffled regarless of the situation. He just gets the ball and throws it immediately and seems to be in complete command at all times.

If you have not lucky enough to be able to watch him all the time, the results speak for themselves. In his last 3 games, he has pitched 24 innings, allowing just 1 run on 18 hits and 2 walks. For the year, 9 of his 10 starts have been quality starts (6 or more innings, 3 or fewer runs). He has a 2.55 ERA and has had fantastic control - 16 walks in 67 innings. He only has 39 strikeouts but I honestly think he could have a lot more if he wanted. I believe he is working on his command and control and saves his best for key spots. I'll use another cliche here. He's a pitcher.

The other young player who has been part of everything recently is Curtis Granderson. In his last 10 games, he has hit .372 with 7 extra base hits, 15 runs scored and 13 RBI. Defensively, he has been outstanding in center field with solid range and great instincts. He has been everything that I had been hoping for.

As the headline says, the Tigers have now won 8 in a row and 15 out of 16. The amazing run has put them at 35-14 for the season and 3 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago White Sox. Not even the biggest Tiger homer could have expected a start like this.

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