With Detroit chasing a Wild Card spot, righty K's season-high 12
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- As he has done so many times in his career, Justin Verlander stepped up and delivered in a big way to help the Tigers, who pulled back to within one game of the Orioles in the American League Wild Card race with Tuesday's 12-0 win against the Indians.
Verlander's season-high 12 strikeouts across 7 2/3 innings came as no surprise to manager Brad Ausmus.
"I'm tired of talking about how good he's been, to be honest," Ausmus said with a laugh. "If you're not sure how good he's been, just watch him."
Verlander is no stranger to pitching under the pressures of fall baseball. He is 33-16 with a 3.21 ERA in September and October during his 11-year career.
"It's not quite the same," Verlander said. "Obviously there's a little more intensity, but there's no replicating the actual playoffs and the atmosphere and everything that goes on in those games."
While the intensity level was not quite full-tilt postseason level, it was a big outing from Verlander, even though his performance came against an Indians team that rested the majority of its normal starting lineup the day after clinching the AL Central.
Verlander's veteran presence has been key in getting the Tigers to where they stand. While he has been a mentor to the young starting rotation, he is taking a bit of a hands-off approach as the season winds down. He said he doesn't talk to them specifically about what is at stake because they already know.
"You don't say anything," Verlander said. "These guys go out and play. There's nothing I can say to change the intensity that they're going to have. This is what you always want."
That's not to say that he hasn't been a mentor throughout the season. He has helped guys like Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris navigate through a pennant race, even after losing crucial games like Monday, when the Indians clinched the division at Comerica Park.
"That's not easy, I just think we kind of preach that to each other," Verlander said. "'Hey, turn the page, tomorrow's a new day.' And there were times where that got kind of redundant, but we were able to do that. And that's impressive we were able to do that with a lot of young guys."
Much like Ausmus, teammate Justin Upton wasn't surprised Verlander came through for Detroit.
"It's actually not that impressive because he prepares for every start the same way," Upton said. "He wants to go out there and be dominant every night, and today was one of those days where he had his good stuff and he was able to pitch the way he did."
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.