Game of the Day: Tigers 2, Red Sox 0
Graduation day: He's won the Rookie of the Year, thrown a no-hitter, started an All-Star Game and pitched in the World Series. Heady stuff for a 26-year-old. But Justin Verlander(notes) might have been Bar Mitzvahed in this appearance.
Verlander became a man probably at the precise moment he struck out Jason Bay with a 100-mph fastball in the bottom of the eighth. Tying run at bat, with the Red Sox threatening to sweep the four-game series at Fenway Park, and he blows the All-Star slugger away with his you-can't-touch-this, his 123rd pitch of the game. Great story. Compelling and rich.
Horse with man's name: Jim Leyland, who was there when Cy Young came down from Mount Sinai with the pitching commandments, says Verlander would not be denied.
"That's a horse," Leyland said "That's a brilliant performance. The eighth inning was textbook, No. 1-type pitching. To do what he did in that inning, at that point in the ballgame, there's not many guys who can do that."
Verlander knew the Tigers needed this game, even if the White Sox and Twins aren't exactly chasing them like the Hound(s) of the Baskervilles. Facing Bay, who had homered in each of the first three games of the series, Verlander vowed not to give in.
"That was a big at-bat," said Verlander, who had eight strikeouts. "I was just thinking, 'I'm not going to give up a game-tying home run in the eighth, when our guys have battled so hard.' "
The boy has become a man before our eyes, Sadie!
Verlander allowed four hits and a walk, retiring 16 of his final 19 batters.
He also twice hit the No. 9 batter with a pitch, but there seemed no connection to Tuesday night's brawl. Kevin Youkilis(notes) and Rick Porcello(notes) have begun serving suspensions from that incident.
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Feelin' Rundown (all of these pitchers still are children):
Reds 7, Nationals 0: Jonny Gomes(notes) goes yard not once, not twice, not four times, but three times — becoming the sixth player to do so this season. The jock-sippin' star of the Rays championship celebrations found himself back in the minors to start this season. But he's carving himself a place in the Queen City with a solid, not gaseous, comeback effort.
Secondly, a bite has been taken out of crime.
Third, Cliff Lee(notes) (right, with shoe phone) was almost robotically good in helping the Phillies complete their first sweep at Wrigley since 1984. Not that the Cubs are any test right now. P-U, stinkeroo.
Who throws a shoe?
Brewers 12, Padres 9: Boy, we almost found someone doing worse than the Cubs, but the Brewers had to go and beat the Padres to avert a sweep.
Thanks goes to the backup catcher, Mike Rivera(notes), who hit his first two homers of the season and to what has to be one of the worst performances by a winning pitcher all season; Manny Parra(notes) allowed six runs and 13 hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"That's 40 home runs for the middle infield, and oh-by-the-way gold-glove defense," Tracy said. "I think the only other tandem you can speak of in that vein would be the two guys that play over in Philadelphia. We have something special going on."
I'll give him Tulo, as J-Roll appears to be in decline, but comparing Barmes to Utley? Can we pre-take away Tracy's manager of the year awards for such baseball blasphemy? I like the meat-carrying, falling-down-the-stairs Barmes, but this is Chase bleeping world champion Utley we're talking about here.
Marlins 9, Astros 2: Canturunhomer.
Rangers 4, Indians 1: Four hits from Josh Hamilton(notes), who's heating up, hopefully not to the point where the shirt comes off. ... 100-mph man Neftali Feliz(notes) is already in the record book, having struck out seven in a row over two games to tie club president Nolan Ryan with the team mark.
Royals 5, Twins 4: The Royals, still allowed in the league despite the best interests of everyone, won their first series since June 23-25 at Houston. It's the first time they took a series of at least three games against an AL team since they beat the Twins in the Dome from May 1-3. I'm gonna have to kick the Twinkies out of the league too, just for that.