Reporting Greg Bowman
Whenever you hear about a matchup of two of the best pitchers in baseball, the game rarely lives up to the hype. Sunday’s game at Comerica Park pitting Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander against the Angels’ Jered Weaver was the exception. Both pitchers were sensational. But Verlander was better. He took a no-hitter into the 8th inning in what would have been his second no no of the season, and third of his career. Weaver made three mistakes: serving up fat pitches to Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, who hit them out of the park for home runs. And then Weaver made his last mistake–losing his cool and throwing at Alex Avilla’s head.
Weaver had reason to be perturbed. He was no doubt mad at himself for giving up the runs. And he was annoyed because he thought Guillen was showing up him at the plate, watching the home run fly out of the park before he trotted around the bases. But that’s still no excuse for deliberately trying to bean Avilla, especially since the teams had been warned after words were exchanged. Weaver ignored the warnings and was promptly ejected.
All the hubbub may have also cost Verlander his no hitter, since he seemed out of synch when he took the mound in the 8th. Erick Aybar tried to bunt his way on to break up the no hitter, something fans didn’t appreciate. Verlander tried to field it and threw the ball away as he tried to get the runner out at first. That error was followed by sloppy play and eventually a hit, leading to two unearned runs. I can’t blame Aybar for bunting. His job was getting on base anyway he could, and he did it. Maybe it wasn’t pretty and it may have violated some sort of unwritten baseball rule, but his team was only trailing by three runs, and the Angels almost managed to tie it up.
In any case, the actions by both teams were unprofessional, and even “Stupid,” as Angels outfield Torii Hunter said. And they took away from the brilliant performance by both pitchers, who are considered by most to be the top two candidates for the American League Cy Young Award. Verlander now has 15 wins to Weaver’s 14, while Weaver still has a slight edge in Earned Run Average. But on this Sunday, Verlander outdueled Weaver, and in my slightly biased opinion, deserves the award if the voting were held today. Unfortunately, Major League Baseball has not seen fit to give me a vote yet!