Verlander moves into 2nd on Tigers' all-time K's list
Righty passes Morris, throws seven scoreless innings against Rangers
By Chris Vannini
Special to MLB.com |
DETROIT -- On Tuesday, Justin Verlander tweeted that he was going to dominate soon, and people could doubt him if they wanted. That was right after he allowed seven earned runs over five innings to the Indians.
On Sunday, he backed it up, as Verlander threw seven shutout innings, striking out nine in Detroit's 8-3 loss to the Rangers. He left the game up 2-0, before the bullpen allowed seven runs in the eighth inning.
With a fourth-inning punchout of Prince Fielder, Verlander moved into second place in Tigers history with 1,981 strikeouts.
"I felt like I was close," Verlander said of the tweet. "Obviously, one start doesn't dictate dominating, especially when we don't win. I sent that out because that's the way I felt. I feel like every start's getting better and better. The numbers didn't show it. It was to go out and have a good start, but in the end, we need to win. Bottom line."
With the Fielder strikeout, Verlander passed Jack Morris, who pitched for the Tigers from 1977-90 and averaged 159 strikeouts per season after becoming a full-time starting pitcher in 1979. Removing the 2005 season, in which Verlander only pitched two games, he has averaged 194 strikeouts per season.
The 33-year-old Verlander now only trails Mickey Lolich and his 2,679 strikeouts with Detroit from 1963-75.
"His fastball was jumping on hitters. He was getting swings and misses on the fastball," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "His slider was good today. He's been tinkering with a new slider. That pitch was very helpful, especially in the early innings. He just looked like he had more power stuff, especially with the fastball."
According to BrooksBaseball.net's PITCHf/x tool, Verlander threw 18 of his 23 sliders for strikes -- the highest strike rate for any of his pitches.
Verlander was the No. 2 overall pick by the Tigers in the 2004 MLB Draft. He won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2006 and won the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards in 2011, becoming the first pitcher to win both awards in the same season since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starter to do so since Roger Clemens in 1986.
Sunday's performance on Mother's Day was reminiscent of a younger Verlander.
"It was just a good outing," he said. "It felt good to bounce back after my last start. I know the numbers in the last one weren't good at all, but I felt like I was getting close. It was good to see results in this one."
Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.