May 24th, 2012

Verlander: It’s not early anymore

Justin Verlander struck out the top of the Indians lineup in order on 11 pitches in his eighth and final inning Thursday afternoon, firing two 100-mph fastballs, another at 101 and one at 102. He then fired some pretty good statements about the state of the team, probably the best to come from a player so far:

  • On whether the Tigers’ struggles are mystifying: “It’s not mystifying, no. That’s the game of baseball. It’s just disappointing the way we’ve been playing as a team. Obviously I think we all expected better. You can only say it’s still early for so long. We have to get this thing turned around.”
  • On what it’ll take: “I think we’ve just got to find our groove, and we’ve got to find it quickly. We’re a good team. We know that. And I think because we know we’re good, maybe it’s a little easy to sit back and say OK, it’s early. We’ll find it. We’ll find it. At some point it’s not early anymore, and you’re going to have to make adjustments to find it as a team. It’s just the game of baseball. That’s why it’s played on the field and not on paper.”
  • When does that point comes: “I would say, for me, now.”
  • What kind of adjustments: “I think we have to be more consistent as a starting staff. Really, you can look at every aspect of our team and say we have room for improvement. I think the starting staff can be more consistent. The bullpen can be more consistent. Offense, defense, everybody. This is a team, and right now this team isn’t getting it done. Will we? I think so. I’m a firm believer in that. But we have to get it going. I think once we get some confidence and a couple things start going our way — tonight’s a perfect example of things just not going your way, two bloops score the winning run. And not just bloops in the gap, they were the little dying quails right over the infielders’ head. I mean, when it rains, it pours. That’s just kind of the way it is in this game.”
  • On the emotions surrounding the ejections the last couple games: “I think there’s a little tension. There’s nothing wrong with that. I think we’re all feeling that way. Emotions run hot. God, this is eerily similar to last year, isn’t it?”
  • Does last year’s comeback become a confidence boost or a crutch: “I don’t think it’ll become a crutch, but I think it’s nice to know that we can. There was never a doubt that we can. Obviously we would’ve liked to start the first 40-whatever games hot and be 30-10 right now, but that’s not the case. But we know it’s there. Just gotta find it.”
  • Do expectations make it tough: “You guys make the xpecations, not us. We were confident last year. We knew we were good last year. We had expectations internally last year. It may not have been the mind-blowing-everybody’s-writing-us-to-go-to-the-World-Series, but we believe that in here. So I don’t see how anything’s different in this clubhouse than it was last year.”
  • Was he trying to send a message in the eighth: “No, not send a message. I was just trying to light a spark.”
  • Did he notice the 102 mph fastball: “Yeah, I saw it. I heard the fans, so I looked.”
  • Does a team meeting benefit a struggling club: “I don’t think that’s always done by the players. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn’t. But I think that we and Skip have a good feel for when it needs to be done. It’s not like we’re not trying. It’s just we’re not getting it done right now. What’s the point in getting everybody [ticked] off if we’re already [ticked] off?”
  • Does this team need a meeting right now: “I don’t think so.”

Wednesday: Tigers at Indians

Indians have their Weather Day promotion today. It’s the third one the Tigers have seen this year, including their own a few weeks ago. It’ll be sunny and warm today at Progressive Field, but it’s overcast on the Tigers side. They wasted a good performance from Doug Fister last night, and they probably can’t afford to do the same with Justin Verlander on the mound for a noon getaway game.

TIGERS

  1. Quintin Berry, CF
  2. Andy Dirks, LF
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Delmon Young, DH
  6. Brennan Boesch, RF
  7. Alex Avila, C
  8. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  9. Danny Worth, 2B

P: Justin Verlander

INDIANS

  1. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
  2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
  3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  4. Carlos Santana, DH
  5. Michael Brantley, CF
  6. Jose Lopez, 3B
  7. Casey Kotchman, 1B
  8. Shelley Duncan, LF
  9. Lou Marson, C

P: Justin Masterson

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