Game 86: Verlander reprises Pitch Conservation Mode

This wasn’t the vintage form Justin Verlander had in mind. He’ll take it.

Before Justin Verlander had his MVP season in 2011, he had more than a few outings like this — crooked numbers and high pitch counts in the opening inning, followed by quick innings and zeros to salvage a winnable outing. He gave up a five-run, 43-pitch first inning April 11, 2010, then held the Indians to one hit over the next four innings before giving up another run in the sixth.

In 2010, I used to think of it as Verlander going into Pitch Conservation Mode — get early contact, get outs, get out of the inning quick, eat up as many innings as he can. Tuesday was a bit like that — five runs within the first seven batters, 31 pitches in the opening inning, then five shutout innings over 69 pitches to qualify for the win.

“You kind of walk a fine line there,” Verlander said, “between pitch conservation and not giving up any more runs, because you know if you give up any more runs, that’s probably going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, especially when your team goes out there and starts to score some runs to get you back in the ballgame.”

He did it Tuesday by getting a feel for his secondary pitches and changing speeds. In the opening inning, didn’t seem to have a feel for any pitch other than his fastball. He was still kicking himself after the game for a changeup he threw to Adrian Gonzalez for a two-run double that opened the scoring, and he couldn’t be happy with the 0-2 curveball he hung to Juan Uribe for his two-run homer later on.

“The curveball to Uribe was homer. And then the changeup to Gonzalez was just a little bit up,” Verlander said. “You take those two away, or better executed, and it’s probably not a bad inning at all. If I execute that changeup to Gonzalez, we probably get a double play. It just didn’t happen. It is what it is. It happens. Gotta get better.”

He got better. It just happened from the second inning on.

Not only did all five of Verlander’s runs come in the opening inning, so did four of the five hits he allowed. He shut down the Dodgers offense following Uribe’s two-run homer until Hanley Ramirez walked leading off the sixth and Matt Kemp singled off the glove of a diving Nick Castellanos two batters later.

The stretch in between saw Verlander, who struggled to locate anything but his fastball in the opening inning, change speeds and flummox Dodgers hitters after that, retiring 13 in a row. The curveball that hung for Uribe to hit out on an 0-2 pitch sent down Matt Kemp swinging to end the third inning and induced an Andre Ethier comebacker in the fourth.

It was a good lineup that he shut down.

“Obviously first innings have been a little bit of an issue,” Verlander said. “That probably goes into finding a rhythm and getting things going. Hopefully it gets easier and easier and those first innings are no longer an issue.”


Good to see JV back in his old form . Now they have to figure out how to get the W today . Dodgers are a good ball club should be a good game .

Dodgers came to Detroit with a collective ERA above 4.20 for the month

Not sure what is up with JV and his awesomeness, but amazed at that crazy game last night – makes me wonder if Torii is out on that double if we even win – the way we hit I believe we do, but that really sparked something and kind of slapped the guys into something. The box score looked funny – AJ the only guy w/out a hit and,JD with 3 hits but the only one w/out an rbi. Crazy season – maybe they all are but this year seems so unpredictable.

JV…awesome? I’m not sure if that was awesome. 5 runs in an inning? Maybe your being sarcastic. He’s very lucky his boys saved his but. I’ll give him credit for settling down, but nothing else. That’s 4 straight starts were the starting pitchers were bad.

JV was at least determined. Like him or not, to gut out something like that is impressive. He could have given up to humiliation. He didn’t, he came back out and found a way to eat some innings and in the process his team (and yesterday thery were that-a team) found a way to win a game that they shouldn’t have. Those are priceless victories.
JV has obviously lost a little giddyup and that is difficult for a power pitcher to adjust to. There is something in his character that pushes him to succeed. He respects the game. He will find a way back into the hearts of Tiger fans again. We’re lucky to have him.

No Miggy in the lineup……seriously.

And AJ leading off again?
Brad must have inherited the “I’ll keep doing it til’ it works” principle from his predecessor.
Miggy not playing means something. That’s a for sure.

Today is gonna be a tough one. Greinke pitches well and very well against us. Two of the guys who have had success against him are not in the lineup. Torii has hit him well–and that’s about it.

What astonished me the most last night were all of our hits dropping in and so many just under someone’s glove. Truly, we had some lucky breaks in the “hits” area.

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