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News & Notes: Justin Verlander's hate will make him strong

Big League Stew

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A few items to peruse while remembering to be kind to your knees, you'll miss them when they're gone ...

• Well, will you look at that? Justin has been absolutely vintage Verlander over the past few weeks. Counting a 5-3 victory over the Rangers on Wednesday night, the Tigers' ace is now 4-0 with a 1.02 ERA over his last five starts and has a none-too-shabby 52 strikeouts over his last 35 1/3 innings.

The secret to Verlander's regained success, writes Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press is that Verlander has turned into a big ol' flaming ball of hatred on days that he pitches. How quaint.

Says Verlander:

"From the time I wake up in the morning, I pretty much hate whoever I'm pitching against. I think about their lineup, and I don't like any of those guys."

"I'm not a very nice guy on my start day right now. Something had to change. I don't hardly talk to anybody unless I need to."

The Tigers are now 22-16 and making a lot of mo-mos look awfully dumb with their predictions. In our defense, we had no idea that Verlander was going to turn back to the dark side this year. [Free Press via BBTF]

Day Baseball! Rangers at Tigers, 1:05 ET We also had no idea that Edwin Jackson(notes) would be pitching as well as he has been. The former Ray is 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA and today he'll go against Kevin Millwood(notes) as Detroit goes for its sixth straight win and a series sweep.

• MLB has finally defined the amount it's donating to our veterans with the sale of its new round of Stars and Stripes hats, out just in time for Memorial Day.

"Major League Baseball Properties, Inc will donate all of the proceeds it receives from the sale of the caps to Welcome Back Veterans. In addition, MLB.com will donate an additional $1 to Welcome Back Veterans for each cap purchased through www.mlb.com."

I think we can all agree that "all of the proceeds" is much better than a murky "portion of the proceeds." Here's a big BLS head nod to progress. Buy away, Stewies. [C. Trent]

• Relax, lady Stewies. After this reported Mauer-free debacle, Sooze checks in with the "real" hottest ballplayers in the bigs. [Fantasy Pros 911]

Day Baseball! Indians at Royals, 2:10 Happy Pavano Day! (Greinke Day, too.)

Day Baseball! Phillies at Reds, 12:35 Whenever I see Joe Blanton(notes) listed as The Fightins' starter, I say 'meh' and move along. Do Philly citizens do the same?

Day Baseball! A's at Rays, 4:08 Apparently Tampa Bay didn't think much of my plan that had them sweeping Oakland at home in their climb back to respectability, losing the first two games of the series at the Trop.

• How much does Heath Bell(notes) rule? Let us count the ways. [Rumors and Rants]

• These three-year-old twins show that the Cubs-Sox split starts early in Chicago. [YT]

DAY BASEBALL! Twins at White Sox, 2:05 Finally, I took Penny, the official hound of Big League Stew, to the White Sox's annual Dog Day on Wednesday night. Highlights included her eating half a hot dog in half a second, meeting a collie that barked in celebration any time his owner yelled "He Gone" or "Put It On The Board, Yes" and casting her very first All-Star ballot, old-school style.

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Penny's write-in votes included Greg Maddux(notes), Ryan Madson(notes), Lance Johnson, Fred McGriff, Rex Hudler and Doggie Miller. Oh, and she punched out the hole for Lastings Milledge(notes).

(She always obeys her owner, of course.)

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