Now that's the Justin Verlander we've been waiting to see! Maybe it was seeing that interlocking "NY" on the opposing team's hats. Maybe it was pitching at home. Or maybe something finally clicked for him. Whatever the reason (or all of the above), Verlander had that look tonight, and the Yankees couldn't touch him.
Really, the only shame of Verlander's outing is that he didn't reach double-digit strikeouts. Which is surprising because it looked like he'd get there easily, with nine after the sixth inning. But he still pitched into the eighth, which could be the result of Jim Leyland keeping him in there when it wasn't going so well in his last couple of starts. Of course, Verlander deserves credit for hanging in there and overpowering a lineup that typically likes to take pitches and tire opposing hurlers out.
Has Magglio Ordonez gotten his extra base groove back? The Big Tilde hit his second home run in the last three games. It wasn't pretty, bouncing off the top of the right field wall (and barely eluding Nick Swisher's glove), but it was the big blow in what turned out to be the decisive sixth inning.
Note to Jim Leyland: No non-save situations for Fernando Rodney! Last Wednesday in Anaheim, Rodney came in with a four-run lead, and promptly turned it into a two-run game by serving up hits to four of the first five hitters he faced. Tonight, Rodney once again had a four-run lead and the first three Yankees batters got base hits.
Why was Rodney in the game anyway, after having pitched yesterday? Was Leyland that worried about the lead? Now, both he and Bobby Seay, who's pitched three games in a row (thanks to Billfer for pointing that via IM), will surely be unavailable tomorrow.
When a ball is hit into the gap and all you see is grass on your TV screen, with no outfielders in the picture, you know it's going for extra bases. That's exactly what happened when Placido Polanco smoked a ball into left-center, with Curtis Granderson on first base. As soon as that ball landed, Grandy was sure to score. And a thin 1-0 Tigers lead got a little more breathing room. (The lead became comfortable one batter later, with Ordonez's opposite field two-run shot.)
Comment of the Night:
That may be the best inning I’ve seen out of him in a couple of years. To bear down like that with two on and no one out.
That’s been what he’s been unable to do in his last starts.by pfuhrmeister
Finally, Mario and Rod mentioned Twitter on tonight's telecast (which didn't go unnoticed in the GameThread). Neither of them are on it yet, but please consider this a call to arms. Or a call to Tweets. Mario, Rod: We want you on the Twitter. Make it happen.