I got the first inkling of what was happening at Rogers Centre this afternoon courtesy of the Blue Jays’ radio crew via SiriusXM Radio. A short time later I was home in time for the sixth inning, watching as Mario and Rod tiptoed around the then-perfect game in progress.
Four years ago, Verlander was fresh off his Rookie of the Year season and had the cockiness of a young stud and was determined to blow away every Milwaukee hitter.
He threw 112 pitches, faced 30 hitters, fanned a dozen and walked four. This game was at home and he was clearly riding the adrenaline rush. He was throwing that night — and doing so with gusto.
Today was an exercise in pitching and, well, the only word that jumps to mind is “maturity.” Facing the minimum 27 batters, Verlander threw 108 pitches and struck out just four. But he seemed, I don’t know, focused and like he’s been there before.
Of course, this is the new brand of Verlander that we’ve heard about all season: more serious about his craft, more focused on game days, and so on.
I’ve been critical of Verlander in the past — specifically because of his desire to be the Tigers’ ace but not acting like it often enough.
After his crisp dismantling of the Blue Jays, he has taken a big step toward cementing himself in Tigers history as one of the franchises best of all time.
And, I think he did it by simply growing up.