The only ones who don’t feel that way are his opponents.
In his final tune-up before the playoffs, Verlander will try to become the majors’ first 25-game winner in over two decades when he faces the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
Almost assured of the Cy Young Award and a candidate for AL MVP, Verlander (24-5, 2.29 ERA) will open the division series Friday in the Tigers’ first playoff appearance since 2006. A win over the Orioles would make him baseball’s first 25-game winner since Bob Welch went 27-6 for Oakland in 1990.
Verlander could also lock up the Triple Crown and become the first AL pitcher to lead the league in wins, ERA and strikeouts since Johan Santana(notes) in 2006. He has already clinched wins and strikeouts and leads Jered Weaver(notes) in ERA.
“I said earlier this year, if you expect greatness, greatness shouldn’t surprise you,” Verlander told the Tigers’ official website. “And therefore, all the other stuff that comes with that is easy to block out. And I’ve just kind of always had that personality where I’m able to focus primarily on the task at hand and not worry about everything else surrounding it.”
The Detroit ace dominated yet another opponent Sunday to win his 12th straight start, limiting Oakland to three hits over eight innings in a 3-0 victory.
“He prepares as hard as anybody and can translate it into action. His attention to detail is unbelievable,” catcher Alex Avila(notes) said. “He’s been able to do exactly what he wants to do and can make changes if he has to.”
No AL pitcher has won 13 consecutive starts since Ellis Kinder of the Boston Red Sox in 1949. Kinder’s final win during his run came against the Yankees on Sept. 24, exactly 62 years prior to Verlander’s attempt.
Verlander continued his mastery of the Orioles with an eight-inning, nine-strikeout performance in a 7-3 win at Camden Yards on April 6. He is 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA in eight starts versus Baltimore.
The Tigers (91-66) got a solid start from Rick Porcello(notes) and a homer from Miguel Cabrera(notes) before Victor Martinez(notes) delivered a run-scoring double in the 11th inning to seal a 4-3 victory over the Orioles on Friday.
Cabrera is batting .407 with three homers and eight RBIs in eight games against Baltimore this season.
Detroit kept pace with Texas in the race for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs - and home-field advantage in the first round. The Tigers hold the tiebreaker because they beat the Rangers 6-3 in the season series.
“This was a good tonic for us and a good win,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We needed to get this one, obviously, because Texas was winning. We wanted it, and we got it.”
Seemingly headed for 20 losses at one point, Baltimore scheduled starter Jeremy Guthrie(notes) (9-17, 4.28) has been much better lately. He won his third straight start, allowing four runs and 10 hits over six innings of a 6-5 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Boston on Monday.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.08 ERA in his past five starts after going 0-2 with a 7.32 ERA in his previous three.
Guthrie usually pitches well against the Tigers but was tagged for six runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings during a 6-5 home loss Aug. 13. He is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA lifetime at Comerica Park.