It wasn't the same look in his eyes that Detroit Tigers' fans have grown accustomed to. Instead of the automatic, pinpoint glare of a man locked in, armed and ready, it had taken on the glassy haze of worried and confused acceptance. This was not a man primed to unload on his opponents. This was not the Justin Verlander fans were hoping for, nor was it the man necessary for a successful opening game victory in the 2012 Major League Baseball World Series.
As the October 24 contest began, it had become obvious that something was very, very wrong. No one, other than the Tigers' ace, could know the true reason. The television broadcast team floated several possibilities. It wasn't something expected or planned for. Whether the extended layoff killed his momentum, or something else, Verlander was far from his usual, dialed-in, dominating self.
Sure, anyone can have an off day. In his post-game comments, he offered as much. However, for Verlander, it could not have come at a worse time, as his inability to command his fastball allowed the San Francisco Giants to steal Game 1 with an 8-3 victory.
Going only four innings, in one of the season's worst starts, Verlander gave up five runs, including two of the three homeruns posted by the man known as "Kung Fu Panda," Pablo Sandoval. Both shots, coming off of two 95 mph fastballs, told the night's tale, as Verlander had little in the way of momentum. His normally-untouchable arsenal would be touched, often and with devastating consequences, as he would finish with an ERA of 11.25 and only four strikeouts, on 98 pitches.
As I have stated time and time again, Verlander is, without a doubt, the greatest pitcher I have seen in my nearly 33 years on this earth. Now holding a career 0-3 record with a 7.20 ERA in the World Series, Verlander has, potentially, one more start to right the ship and deliver a big-game performance worthy of his dominant career.
Despite having been crowned Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award-winner and All-Star, warranted or not, he will, ultimately, be judged on whether or not he adds a championship ring to his collection of accolades. In a career such as his, a World Series win is the only thing left to accomplish. To finish without doing so would be a travesty for a man who has dominated a generation of professional baseball.
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
- Detroit Tigers
- Justin Verlander