Verlander ready to right the ship for Tigers

Verlander ready to right the ship for Tigers
October 14, 2013, 6:30 pm
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DETROIT – After watching fellow right-handers Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer throw dominating performances against the Red Sox in the first two games of the ALCS, Justin Verlander will try to match those gems in Game 3 Tuesday afternoon. But, it will be more than just clubhouse bragging rights that are at stake.
 
After wasting a sterling outing from Scherzer in Game 2, Verlander must be the stopper, putting an end to the brief yet very effective momentum and production the Sox were finally able to muster in the eighth and ninth innings of Game 2, pulling out a walk-off 6-5 win.
 
The Red Sox win allowed them to even the series, 1-1, rather than go into Detroit down, 0-2.
 
“Obviously, that was a tough one,” said Verlander. “At the same time you know series is going to be a dogfight. Nobody is going to walk over anybody.
 
“In my opinion these are the two best teams in the American League. We’ve made it to this point. When we play each other during the regular season it was a dogfight. At this point in the season nobody is going to give in. Nobody is going to give an inch, even down 5-1. Those guys battled. It was a heck of a ballgame. Obviously it sucks to let it slip away. This is baseball. You’ve got to reset and come ready to play the next game.”
 
Manager Jim Leyland doesn’t expect any carryover effect after his team’s stunning loss, regardless of who will take the mound for the Tigers. But, it’s certainly nice to be able to send out Verlander, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner who finished second in balloting last season.
 
“I don’t look for any carryover,” Leyland said. “I didn’t see any carryover with the Boston Red Sox [on Sunday]. They lost a 1-0 game they probably should have won the first game. They didn’t have any carryover. I don’t think we’ll have any carryover.
 
“[But] it’s always nice to have Justin Verlander on the mound no matter with the situation is. There won’t be any carryover for our guys for that game last night. That’s over with. We probably should have won that game last night. We probably should have lost the first one. We’re probably exactly where we’re supposed to be.”
 
Verlander – who wasn’t there for the aftermath, leaving early to fly back to Detroit in preparation for his start – knows his teammates are relying on him to pitch the way they he can.
 
“It feels great to hear that,” Verlander said.  “But I think that the great thing about this team is no matter what happens we can say that about the starting pitcher the next day. Whatever happens [Tuesday], we can say, ‘It’s alright, we’ve got Doug Fister going the next day, and then we have Anibal [Sanchez] and then we have Max.
 
“We’ve got a starting rotation that’s relentless, and I said that before the series started. Every guy has their unique ability to shut down a team in their own way. Me, Anibal, and Max are all power guys and then Doug who very sneakily can shut you down. I’ve seen him strike out nine guys in a row. It’s nice to hear guys say that about me, but I’m just one of the four guys right now.”
 
The Sox are a team that likes to grind out at-bats, work a pitcher’s pitch count up, hoping to drive him from the game with fatigue. Verlander knows that. In 11 career appearances against the Red Sox he is 3-4 with a 3.63 ERA. The Sox are just one of two teams – along with the Angels – against whom he has a career record below .500. He does not expect that to affect his approach against them, though.
 
“No, I don’t think it does,” he said. “Obviously most of the veteran lineups in baseball are guys that have professional at-bats and tend to extend pitch counts and do all the little things that they can to get the starting pitcher out of the game.
 
“I think the only way you combat that is be aggressive, throw a lot of strikes, and pound the zone."