August 28th, 2013

Wednesday’s lineups: Tigers vs. Athletics

TIGERS

  1. Austin Jackson, CF
  2. Torii Hunter, RF (4-for-7, 2 HR, 3 K’s off Dan Straily)
  3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
  4. Prince Fielder, 1B
  5. Victor Martinez, DH
  6. Andy Dirks, LF
  7. Omar Infante, 2B
  8. Alex Avila, C
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

P: Doug Fister

ATHLETICS (career numbers against Doug Fister)

  1. Coco Crisp, CF (7-for-16, 2 K’s)
  2. Josh Donaldson, 3B (1-for-2, walk)
  3. Jed Lowrie, SS (3-for-9, K)
  4. Brandon Moss, RF (1-for-2, K)
  5. Yoenis Cespedes, LF (1-for-3)
  6. Daric Barton, 1B (6-for-23, 2 walks, 4 K’s)
  7. Alberto Callaspo, DH (4-for-14, HR, walk, K)
  8. Eric Sogard, 2B (0-for-5, 2 K’s)
  9. Kurt Suzuki, C (6-for-23, 2 K’s)

P: Dan Straily

Verlander commits $1 million to Wins for Warriors initiative

After all the debate on what’s going on with Justin Verlander on the mound, his work off the field took another step. On Wednesday, the Tigers announced that Verlander has committed $1 million to launch an initiative with the Detroit Tigers Foundation to support mental health efforts of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families in the Detroit area as well as his home area of Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia.

The Wins and Warriors initiative will work to sustain two programs that work with veterans and their families: Give An Hour and The Mission Continues. Both are national organizations. The funding will help Give An Hour, which asks mental health professionals to donate an hour a week to free mental health services for veterans and their families, launch new posts in Detroit and the Richmond-Norfolk area in Virginia. The Mission Continues awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, and will use the Wins for Warriors funding to create three new fellowships — one in Detroit, one in Richmond and one in Norfolk.

Wins for Warriors is also conducting a fundraising campaign through Crowdrise for further support, with Verlander matching each donation through the end of the regular season. He’ll also be offering up incentives to donate, from signed baseballs to on-field pregame events to an offer to watch a 2014 game from his suite at Comerica Park.

 

Where Justin Verlander goes from here

Justin Verlander has adjusted his foot placement to get his delivery more in line with the plate. He has adjusted his delivery to his arm more in front and at the angle he wants. On Tuesday, as he tried to rack up quick outs that would lengthen his outing after a career-high 44-pitch inning to start out, he found himself slowing down his delivery as he tried to pitch to contact. In the process, he felt like he found his mechanics where he wanted him.

Pitching at too quick of a pace, and getting out of sorts mechanically as a result, was a rookie problem for him. It’s not normally a 30-year-old pitcher’s problem.

“When I started slowing down a little bit and just trying to pitch to contact and lower my pitch count — and [pitching coach Jeff Jones] said he saw it and I felt it — there were times when it felt great,” Verlander said. “And I told him there’s a series of pitches where it’s like, ‘That’s it.’ And then there’d be one or two where I feel like my arm’s a little late or it’s dragging behind.”

That seems to be the end result with all of the adjustments. And now, here we are.

If you thought Justin Verlander was a saga when he was at the top of his game, the sequel is turning out to be a drama every five days. Where this season-long saga goes from here is anyone’s guess.

Jim Leyland has talked about the standards being placed too high on Verlander based on his past two seasons. On Monday, he talked about Verlander needing to get his swagger back and simplify things. After watching what happened Tuesday, he wasn’t offering up much of any dissecting.

“I just can’t sit here and come up with any philosophical reason for [why] Justin just wasn’t very good tonight,” Leyland said. “I don’t know what else to tell you. I wish I did. I wish I had some magical answer for you but I don’t.”

I wrote it in the game story last night, and the statistics bear out that this was a different kind of outings than Verlander’s other losses this year. Opponents are hitting just .202 against him in his victories this year, .310 in his defeats, and .273 in no-decisions. He gave up four hits over five innings Tuesday, and three of them drove in runs. Three of those runs reached base without a base hit — two on walks, and then the go-ahead tally in the fifth on Omar Infante’s error before Verlander lost a changeup over the plate and paid for it.

His velocity was still strong, averaging just under 95 mph. His command wasn’t good, but his ball-strike ratio didn’t show it. He hit the 70-percent strike rate with his fastball that has been a trait of his better outings, according to brooksbaseball.net, and he threw strikes with seven of his 11 curveballs (though he didn’t get to throwing his curve until after the opening inning). However, 20 of those strikes were foul balls, including 13 in that 44-pitch opening inning. He still induced 15 swings and misses, but just three strikeouts.

“You try to get him [to] get the ball down with his fastball and throw the ball over the plate,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “We were really patient and made him work. That kind of gets you on the run a little bit.”

His curveball, which had been a life preserver for him while he was working through his fastball issues the past few weeks, hasn’t been as sharp the last few outings.

In short, it wasn’t nearly as bad of an outing as several others he has had this year, but it wasn’t good, either.

Cabrera shows funny side on Intentional Talk

Lot of stuff going on today, but if you haven’t seen Miguel Cabrera’s appearance on MLB Network’s Intentional Talk yesterday, it’s worth checking out. It’s the funny side of Cabrera that teammates talk about a lot.

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