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Watching A Remarkable Piece Of Ace

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The Tigers' four-game set with the Red Sox last week was, for the most part, far too mind-exploding to retell. To put it concisely, in no way was part of the plan involving nearly 10 innings out of Chris Lambert and Zach Miner. Last Thursday afternoon, the series looked pretty hopeless, even though Justin Verlander was scheduled to start.

A few teams have legitimate aces, and it's quite breathtaking to watch. An ace can change the momentum of a series. A week. A season. And all it takes is one well-time outstanding start.

Think back to Mark Buehrle's perfect game. The White Sox, for the last few weeks, were playing nothing but .500 ball. Not even in the parity-riddled AL Central is that enough to win. And, admittedly, the White Sox still haven't been beating the world since then, but once their fans saw that every fifth game is a good chance to see a ton of Buehrle Strikeouts (read: pop flies), there's no reason to give up on the team.

Back to Thursday. This was another such game. The context:

• The Tigers lost three straight and were in danger of being swept by the Red Sox in Fenway Park
• The bullpen was plum tired from all those emergency innings

• The White Sox were closing in on first place

What does Verlander do in that situation? Eight innings, seven baserunners, and eight strikeouts. The Tigers won 2-0, and the game didn't just help salvage dignity, it wholly redeemed it.

Detroit is a combined 2-11 against the Yankees and Red Sox. With no more games against either team, what does that stat mean anymore? Detroit was 2-5 against the Yankees in 2006 during the regular season before they beat them in the ALDS in four games.

Someone may have to face Justin Verlander twice in an ALDS. In three games against the YankSox*, he's allowed two runs in 22 innings, allowing 18 hits and striking out 23. That's the difference an ace makes.

* – YankSox. Pretty sure I just made Mssrs. Doherty, Booker, and Tobis collectively hurl.

But to get to October there is still, among some other series, 25 more games against the AL Central. That's a lot of nail-biters against the formidable Twins and White Sox, not to mention the pesky Indians and Royals. Verlander's divisional numbers, in nine starts: 7-1 (three complete games) with a 1.98 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings.

There are legitimate No. 1 starters, like Kevin Millwood and James Shields, but aces like Verlander, Buehrle, and Zack Greinke legitimately change momentum. It'll be a hell of a final month and a half.

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About Suss

  • YankSox made me throw up in my mouth, too, Suss. I almost sent this back to draft on principle.

  • Tony

    I don’t look forward to facing Verlander multiple times in a series but it can’t be much worse than Schilling and Johnson on the same staff.

    He is an amazing pitcher but I’ll put CC or AJ up against him with the Yankees’ offense and feel confident that it will be a close ball game.

    That being said, Verlander is so dominate, especially at his best, that the point is well noted.

  • Tony

    *YankSox, funny, but what if it turns out to be the Yankeerays? Eeeewww, even worse.

  • Now that you mention it, both times Verlander pitched against the Yankees, he faced Sabathia. They each won a game.

  • Tony

    Notice I said CC with the Yankees’ offense. Verlander is the superior talent and I think the Huff signing will be great for them.

  • RJ

    Verlander-Jackson-Washburn-Porcello is pretty darn good. Rodney is a decent closer. And now with the addition of Huff, they have another power bat.

    The Tigers are going to win the AL Central in the last week of the season (their last three games are at home against the White Sox), and then they are going to make some noise in the postseason. Mark it down, it’s for sure.