With every game counting as if their proverbial lives depended on it, the Tigers looked to their ace starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, to help draw them closer to the Chicago White Sox in the American League Central Division. Needed to win six of their next nine games against Anaheim, Chicago and Cleveland, Detroit would need to have every ounce of focus well-placed on these next two weeks of the schedule. Unfortunately, as has been the case throughout the majority of the season, the focus and sense of urgency are not there and, for the second time in three starts, Verlander has not had the type of performance necessary for the Tigers to achieve victory.
Three pitches into the September 8 game against Anaheim, the potential American League Most Valuable Player, Mike Trout, launched an early homerun that would set the tone for the remainder of the game. In the 6-1 rout, Verlander looked much as he did against Kansas City on August 28 - flat and lacking intensity.
Verlander has been known for his quiet, but intense demeanor on the mound. In the last few starts, however, that intensity and hard-nosed attitude just has not shown itself in the velocity, movement and accuracy of his pitches. Giving up 25 hits, 15 runs and 7 walks in the last three games, Verlander's performance has been less than Verlander-like.
Obviously, he cannot go out and deliver perfect performances every time. But if there was ever a time for Verlander and the Tigers to deliver with a sense of urgency, that time is now and the clock is running down. Something unseen has to be weighing on his mind. He doesn't look to be injured, at least that we know of. Maybe it's the pressure of following his performance last season and the expectation surrounding him. Maybe it's Kate Upton. Who knows, really. Whatever it is, he's running out of time to fix it.
As true fans, we will, and have to, stick with the Tigers through thick and thin. With the way they are playing down the stretch, however, it is becoming harder to maintain the passion and rabid fan mentality we all were privy to, at the start of the season. We got excited. We fell into the guise of anticipation. We believed.
At some point, this team will have to put together the type of total, all-around performance we expected them to. Unfortunately, it may come too late.
The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.
- Sports & Recreation
- Justin Verlander
- Chicago White Sox