Justin Verlander decided to have a little fun with the All-Star Game in July. Now his teammates are having a little fun with him, at least until they all get down to serious business for Game 1 of the World Series tonight at AT&T Park. "This One Counts," remember? That's what Major League Baseball decided in 2003, stamping the Midsummer Classic with that silly slogan and a little extra incentive, awarding home-field advantage for the World Series to the winning league in the annual All-Star exhibition. It was Verlander, the reigning MVP and Cy Young winner, who earned the starting nod for the American League. And it was Verlander who decided to treat it more like a relief appearance, throwing smoke from the outset, egged on by teammate Prince Fielder at one point. "I know the fans don't want to see me throw 90 (mph) and hit the corners," Verlander explained afterward. "They want to see the 100-mph fastball." They saw a half-dozen of them, and 26 of his 35 pitches topped 97 mph, the kind of velocity Verlander usually saves for the late innings of starts. But his control suffered, and the National League hitters roughed him up for five runs in the first inning en route to an 8-0 victory. Ready for the razzing Ironically, it was the Giants hitters — Pablo Sandoval and the since-suspended Melky Cabrera — who did most of the damage. And now it's San Francisco that gets to open the World Series at home, a scheduling quirk that hasn't gone unnoticed among Verlander's teammates. "We let him know," pitcher Max Scherzer laughed Tuesday as the Tigers met with the media before a mid-afternoon workout in San Francisco. "You know, 'Maybe you should've actually pitched and not just tried to throw 100 mph?' I think he definitely deserves some (stuff) from the team for that. "I mean, he's the best pitcher in the game right now. There's not too many times you can give him crap about pitching. But this is the one time you can." And Verlander certainly can take it, though by Tuesday he'd heard enough about it to know the question was coming at his preseries news conference with manager Jim Leyland.
All-Star splash leads to ribbing for Tigers ace Justin Verlander
Detroit News | Oct 24