By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – After a season of relative chaos, Justin Verlander finally looks settled in.
His postseason performance thus far can be characterized as nothing less than dominant.
In Game 2 of the ALDS, he did not allow a run in seven innings and struck out 11.
In Game 5 of the ALDS, he did not allow a run over eight innings and struck out 10.
In Game 3 of the ALCS, he allowed just one run through eight and again fanned 10 batters.
“He was just able to turn it on toward the end of the year and he was having some real good starts, but like I’ve been saying, when he commands his fastball, that’s key for him,” catcher Alex Avila said.
“For him it was always about his fastball command,” Avila continued. “When he’s locating his fastball and throwing strikes with that, everything else plays off that. He’s able to then get swing-and-misses on his change-up and his curveball because he’s able to locate the fastball. That’s, I think, been the biggest difference his last few starts of the season going into the postseason.”
Tuesday, though, allowing a single run was not good enough, and the Tigers lost to the Red Sox 1-0.
The only score of the game happened when Verlander gave up a solo home run to Mike Napoli.
“We were trying to go down and away with a fastball, 2-1, trying to make a good pitch, and it just ran back a little more over the plate,” Avila said.
“You want to make a good pitch there,” Avila added. “You don’t want to walk him, walk the go-ahead run on there, but that one just came back a little bit more over the plate.”
Verlander dealt with an unexpected snafu earlier in the game when the power went out, shutting down the ballpark lights and causing a delay of nearly 20 minutes. Such a lengthy interval did not appear to affect Verlander’s performance, but he did not appreciate it.
“I wasn’t happy about it,” Verlander said. “Obviously I was in a groove. But it had no effect. Just kind of treated it like a long inning.”
Even though not getting the team the win after such a strong performance could be frustrating, Verlander said that kind of outcome is almost expected here and there in postseason situations because the pitching on both sides is going to be so solid.
The silver lining, though, includes more games on the docket for the Tigers and a renewed confidence about Verlander.
“The results speak more than what I can say,” Verlander said.” As far as execution and my mechanics and everything that I worked so hard to get to, I feel like I was right where I need to be. Hopefully I just maintain that. Hopefully I have a few more starts in the postseason. Just stay right where I’m at.”