It used to be, when Justin Verlander pitched, nothing else mattered. It was gasp, gasp, gasp, gas, gas, gas. The power display was awe-inspiring, easily the main attraction. Verlander remains fully capable of eliciting awe, don't worry about that. But power is on display just about every night now for the Tigers, from practically any pitcher and any slugger. The Tigers are clear about their formula — a deep starting rotation and a deep batch of hitters who hit it deep. When Verlander pitches well and is somewhat upstaged, you know the Tigers are rolling. They won their fifth straight Tuesday night, clubbing the Twins, 6-1, and for all the obsession about the speed of Verlander's fastball, did anyone clock the flight of the latest Prince Fielder home run? With a mighty uppercut, Fielder blasted the ball into the right-field seats, and it was in the air for approximately two seconds. That was just long enough for Miguel Cabrera to take a couple steps on the basepath before turning and pointing in the direction of the ball. The Tigers clubbed three home runs — Fielder, Cabrera and Alex Avila — and if something was missing from the season's sluggish start, it was power. Well, it's here, as the Tigers have scored 35 runs in the five-game streak and risen to 15-10. Verlander has been holding back too, but he tipped it up to 96 mph or so a few times. When more is needed, Verlander figures it will be there. "I know where I'm at, and I feel it's gotten a little bit better every start," he said. "I threw a lot of innings last year and was basically three weeks behind coming into spring training, on purpose. But I learned a valuable lesson in 2008, and that's not trying to create velocity the wrong way. You start trying to throw hard and it creates bad habits that are hard to fix. I know it's a little down, but I'm confident it'll get there."
With Tigers' powerful bats, Verlander's mound mastery becomes sideshow
Detroit News | May 1