Posts Tagged ‘Justin Verlander’

Tigers notebook, 7/22

July 22, 2011 Comments off

Leyland addresses Thursday’s decisions

MINNEAPOLIS — After right-hander Justin Verlander gave up a leadoff triple on Thursday in the second inning, Tigers manager Jim Leyland played the infield back with Jim Thome at the plate. But following Thome’s strikeout, Leyland moved the infield in with one out.

Leyland discussed the thought process behind the two decisions before Friday’s game.

“Well, with no outs, you don’t want to open up a big inning,” Leyland said. “If you’re playing in and he hits a ball in the hole that you didn’t get, you still got a guy on first. You’ve got one out and you still got the double play in order.

“Over my career, I’ve seen too many infields back and a routine ground ball to the shortstop allows a guy to trot home.”

The strategy did not really end up mattering for Leyland and the Tigers, as Verlander struck out both Thome and Danny Valencia, setting up a ground out to end the inning with the runner stranded at third base.

But Leyland said that he generally likes to bring the infield in with one out and a runner on third.

“Unless you’re worried about a big inning, I play them in all the time,” Leyland said. “If you got one out, I think you should be able to come out of it without a big inning.”

Leyland, Thome share jovial conversation

MINNEAPOLIS — Early on Friday afternoon, Tigers manager Jim Leyland sat out to enjoy a beautiful day at Target Field, which he called “gorgeous,” “beautiful” and a “tremendous” ballpark.

In the home dugout, Leyland spotted Jim Thome and struck up a conversation with the Twins’ slugger.

“I just happened to see him in their dugout, and I pointed to the that sign out there,” said Leyland, referring to the banner above center field that read ‘THOME 596,’ counting down his chase for 600 career home runs.

“I said, ‘I don’t want to see that go up while I’m here,’ kidding him,” Leyland said.

Thome didn’t really have a comeback for Leyland’s joke, but he said that he had a good time talking with Leyland.

“I didn’t really comment, you know?” Thome said. “What are you going to say? It was just all in fun and joking.”

With seven home runs on the year, Thome is within striking distance of becoming the eighth player in Major League history to reach the 600-home run plateau.

Leyland discussed with Thome how nice a ballpark Target Field is, and Thome pointed out to him that all five cities in the American League Central are great places to play.

Aside from the joke about Leyland not wanting to see Thome get any closer to 600 homers this weekend, neither discussed any specifics about their conversation. But both had plenty of good things to say about the other.

“Jimmy’s been around the game a long time,” Thome said. “He’s an old school manager that I think a lot of people have respect for. He’s always been very, very pleasant and very nice to me. Any time I’ve run across him, he’s always been very cordial, very polite. He’s just a good guy to talk to about baseball in general.”

Tigers manager recalls memories of Blyleven

MINNEAPOLIS — With former Twins right-hander Bert Blyleven set to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday in Cooperstown, he was a topic of discussion on Friday when Tigers manager Jim Leyland met with reporters.

Leyland recalled his first encounter with Blyleven in 1969, when both were in the Florida League, playing for the Tigers’ and Twins’ affiliates at the Class A level.

“He was in Orlando when I was at Lakeland,” Leyland said. “I hit against him.”

So the obvious next question was, how did Leyland fare against Blyleven in the early stages of what would eventually become a Hall of Fame pitching career?

“I was probably one of the first guys who sent him on his way to Cooperstown,” Leyland said. “And I can assure you one thing, he doesn’t remember what happened, because he had no clue who I was.”

Tigers sign Draft picks Westlake, Collier

MINNEAPOLIS — The Tigers announced on Friday that they had signed third round pick Aaron Westlake and 22nd round pick Tommy Collier.

With two more players signed from the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the Tigers have now agreed to terms with 28 of the club’s selections.

Westlake, a first baseman from Vanderbilt University, earned second team All-America honors from Baseball America after hitting .344 with 18 doubles, 18 home runs and 56 RBIs in 66 games this year for the Commodores.

Collier, a right-hander from San Jacinto College, was pitching with Bourne of the Cape Cod League this summer before he signed. In five starts, Collier compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.04 ERA, allowing three earned runs over 26 innings pitched with 26 strikeouts.

Tigers roll Twins as Verlander wins No. 13

July 21, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Typically, a leadoff triple is going to result in a run. For Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, it’s more of an opportunity to show off his stuff.

When right fielder Michael Cuddyer opened the second inning of Thursday’s 6-2 Tigers win at Target Field with a triple to the gap in right, the Twins looked like they might put together a rally. Instead, Verlander reached back for something extra to get a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to strand the runner.

“It’s not a high point, but it’s exciting and a momentum builder for our team,” Verlander said. “At that point, it’s 0-0, a leadoff triple and most of the time, that guy’s going to score. Being able to get out of that inning unscathed kind of turned it around and gave our guys a little shot in the arm.”

Verlander pitched brilliantly throughout Thursday’s game, bouncing back from his worst outing of the season to pick up his 13th win as the Tigers earned their 10th straight win over Minnesota.

With the victory, the Tigers lead the Indians, who were idle, by a half-game, taking sole possession of first place in the American League Central for the first time since July 10.

“We let one get away last night, there’s no question about that,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, referring to the club’s 7-5 loss Wednesday to the A’s. “We came here tonight, we had our horse going, he gave us a great effort, we got some big hits and we got a nice win.”

Verlander (13-5) went eight innings, giving up just one run on five hits with nine strikeouts. He did not walk a batter, and faced just two over the minimum through five innings.

He was especially impressive against slugger Jim Thome, who has seven career homers off Verlander. Thome struck out all three times he faced Verlander, stranding four runners.

“He kind of goes hand-in-hand with me as a pitcher,” Verlander said. “Early in my career, he really had my number. I made a lot of mistakes to him, and he did a lot of damage with those mistakes. It seems like over the years I’ve been able to cut down those mistakes to less and less and therefore allow less and less damage.”

Only once did Verlander allow more than one baserunner in an inning, when the Twins scored a run on three straight two-out singles in the sixth inning.

Three Twins — Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer and Cuddyer — got hits off Verlander. The other six went a combined 0-for-19 against the Tigers ace, who topped out at 99 mph on the night.

“It’s tough because he can throw 100 [mph] and then drop of an 80-mph curveball or slider,” said Twins center fielder Ben Revere, who went 0-for-4 on the night. “He knows the back door and the front door. He can place it anywhere. He’s a big-time All-Star, and I’ll say he’ll be a future Hall of Famer, too.”

At the plate, the Tigers put up more than enough offense to support Verlander, knocking Twins right-hander Carl Pavano out of the game after just six innings. Pavano gave up five runs on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

The fifth and sixth were the big innings for Detroit. Brennan Boesch belted a two-run homer — his 14th of the year — with two outs in the fifth, and the Tigers added two more in the sixth. Verlander said the Boesch home run was crucial, allowing him to be more aggressive with a three-run lead than he would with a one-run advantage.

“I just had to battle all game, and I got a pitch to hit and didn’t miss it,” Boesch said. “[Pavano’s] had a lot of success against me, so I knew I had to really focus today.”

Miguel Cabrera led off the sixth with a double, followed by a Victor Martinez single, a Jhonny Peralta double and a sacrifice fly from Carlos Guillen.

Peralta added a solo homer in the eighth, his 15th of the season, into the second deck in left off Twins reliever Chuck James. Peralta finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

Phil Coke pitched the ninth inning, allowing an unearned run on a Wilson Betemit throwing error. Betemit was appearing in his first game since being acquired on Wednesday from the Royals.

“We got some timely hits, Jhonny Peralta had a very good night,” Leyland said. “Big hits we got, and just a good win for us. Coke, I thought, looked really sharp at the end, really good.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rare hailstorm delays Tigers and Twins

May 10, 2011 Comments off

By Jordan Schelling /

MINNEAPOLIS — When Tuesday’s game began at Target Field, it was an unseasonably warm 87 degrees and very humid, but it was an otherwise beautiful evening for baseball.That all changed about an hour into the game when severe storms started rolling into the area. Dark skies poured rain down on the Tigers and Twins, causing the game to be stopped at 8:17 p.m. CT, during the bottom of the fourth inning, and things got even more interesting during the 62-minute delay.

As tornado warnings were issued for the area and funnel clouds were spotted in other parts of the city, rain gave way to hail, ranging in size from pebbles to golf balls, which covered the field.

“That was a first in the big leagues, no doubt,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the hail delay.

Gardenhire was not the only one who saw a hail delay for the first time. On both sides, players who were asked about it said they’d never seen anything like it.

“I’ve never seen that. It was big. First time for me that I’ve seen that in a game,” said the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta, who has spent his career in the American League Central and has seen plenty of wintry weather during games. “I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen a lot of snow. I’ve seen ice rain.”

A good portion of the delay was due to the time needed to clear the hailstones from the field. In addition to putting down Quick Dry on wet spots in the infield, the grounds crew grabbed rakes, shovels and buckets to collect the hailstones that had fallen in the outfield and in foul territory. Detroit won the game, 10-2.

Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel thought the hailstorm was fitting, considering everything else that has gone wrong this season for the club.

“It just makes perfect sense,” Kubel said. “Why not?”

Many had fun with the storm, including a few players.

Young fans could be seen throughout various parts of the stadium having the hail equivalent of snowball fights, tossing the small balls of ice at each other.

In the visitors’ dugout, Tigers ace Justin Verlander could be seen tossing hailstones back onto the field. Later, Verlander broke out the fungo bat and took a few swings as teammate Phil Coke pitched the balls of ice to him.

“They were big ones,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of the hail. “When somebody talks about golf ball-sized hail, that was it, to the fact.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.