You knew this would be strange, if not truly a major kick to the feels. Yes the Tigers have already faced long-time ace and future Hall of Famer, Justin Verlander, this season, and they kicked his backside in that one, launching four home runs off him back in July. However, it’s a whole different thing seeing Verlander on the mound in Comerica Park, wearing a Houston Astros uniform. On a chilly, wet September evening, with attention split between the Tigers and the Detroit Lions home opener on Monday Night Football, the crowd wasn’t quite what you’d hope, but they made plenty of noise anyway.
In the pre-game, hometown fans had a lot of warm words for their former superstar on social media, and on the broadcast, and Verlander jerseys blanketed the ballpark on Monday night. The Tigers had a video tribute to him on the big screen during pre-game announcements. Verlander took a moment to watch, and tipped his cap as the love poured down out of the stands.
Verlander standing out on the field alone watching the video board tribute to him. Awesome moment. Loud ovation as he walked off the field. pic.twitter.com/WOfdaBHzR2— tigermike1975 (@tigermike1975) September 10, 2018
Justin Verlander cheered as he finishes his walk from bullpen... pic.twitter.com/77Tfo5C5ey— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) September 10, 2018
Verlander had himself posted a message to Tigers fans on his Instagram account on Sunday, in anticipation of his return to Detroit.
With the Houston Astros deep into their stretch drive and looking to hold off the Oakland Athletics in the American League West, you knew Verlander would be all business once the pleasantries were over, but it’s obvious that his return to Comerica Park held a lot of meaning for him as well. And, despite the weather, and thin crowd, when Verlander took the mound in the bottom half of the first inning, his welcome home was long and loud.
Detroit will always love Justin Verlander. pic.twitter.com/ZS5OCvXZLk— Jessica Kleinschmidt (@KleinschmidtJD) September 10, 2018
On so august an occasion, even the aurora borealis was also planning on an appearance in Verlander’s honor.
The Northern Lights might make an appearance tonight over much of the state. Be sure to take a look— Kurt Mensching (@KurtJustKurt) September 10, 2018
Meanwhile, Roger Clemens, father of Kody, was recently caught visiting with Verlander and showing him his splitter. All part of the plan to keep JV strong into his 40’s, so he can help Kody Clemens and the rest of the young Tigers return the franchise to being one of the dominant forces in the game. Right? Don’t answer that. Just let us dream.