Well, Detroit, I’m going to admit it. We are spoiled. What occurred tonight doesn’t happen that often. The Team of Destiny, the team that was thrust into the national spotlight almost ten years ago, the Oakland Athletics, were silenced in front of a “crowd of juggalos, a carnival freakshow” (as so bluntly stated by 97.1 the Ticket’s Mike Valenti) in what is probably the most dominant performance on one of the biggest stages of his career. I, myself, drew comparisons to Jack Morris in one of my earlier articles and boy, did he prove me right! Justin cemented his status as an ace, not just for the Tigers but as the best ace in the Major Leagues. I doubt any other pitcher in baseball (besides that Cardinal pitcher) could accomplish what he accomplished tonight.
Verlander allowed no runs on one walk with eleven strikeouts in a 122 pitch, shutout performance. Oakland pitcher Jarrod Parker can only dream of performing the way the Detroit ace did tonight. However, it wasn’t exactly Parker’s fault why they lost. The A’s bullpen failed their starter as the Tigers capitalized and scored four runs in the 7th. With Verlander locked into a “take-no-prisoners” mode, it was too much for Oakland to overcome.
Well, now that Moneyball 2 has been canceled, its time to turn our attention toward our next opponent: the winner of the Baltimore Orioles/New York Yankees series. Tomorrow is Game 5 in the Bronx with the Orioles’ Jason Hammel facing the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia. Now while many wouldn’t want to face the Yankees, simply because they are the Yankees, I actually would hope to face New York in the next round. Baltimore is much like Oakland. They are scrappy. They have just enough pitching to get them by. They work and win as a team. I’m sorry, but we’ve already faced too many “Teams of Destiny” for my tastes. Additionally, the Tigers match up well with New York as many of their older hitters can’t catch up with our power pitchers (Verlander, Scherzer, most of the bullpen) or figure out our crafty hurlers (Fister, Sanchez, Coke). Lastly, with the Yankees pitching Sabathia in a do-or-die game tomorrow, he won’t be available until Game 3 of the ALCS, just like Justin Verlander. And I’d give JV the advantage in that head-to-head matchup too.
So, yes, my lack of sleep is well worth watching this game and writing this article. We all watched something wonderful tonight in Verlander’s performance. Plus, I wouldn’t know what to do if I was subjected to watching ONLY Lions football for the rest of October. But on we advance. With a deep, deep sigh of relief.