News and Notes: Verlander Cruises to 19th Win with Help?
Anytime your team loses to Justin Verlander, it can’t be that disappointing. After all, he is now 19-5 with a 2.25 ERA. Jeff Niemann did a terrific job of matching him pitch for pitch most of the night, but the game fell apart late as two of the Niemann’s earned runs scored after he was taken out. RaysIndex noted that Verlander was getting the “Michael Jordan treatment,” or in other words, getting a larger strike zone than Niemann was getting.
B.J. Upton had the leave the game with a shoulder injury. He over extended his shoulder chasing a Delmon Young drive in the eighth. Initially, it looked like he hurt his arm crashing into the wall. Upton did not seem that concerned about it and he should be back in the next few days.
Is team flexibility a good thing or a bad thing? When Upton had to be removed, it created a tidal wave of changes to Joe Maddon‘s lineup. Reid Brignac replaced Upton in the lineup, which shifted Sam Fuld from left field to center field, MattJoyce from right to left, Ben Zobrist from second to right and Sean Rodriguez from shortstop to second base so that Brignan could play short. It has to be great for a manager to have the ability to make those types of changes, but when a manager has so many movable parts, that most likely means there are too many utility players.
The Rays were shut down offensively receiving only homers from Joyce and Evan Longoria. They saw the best the Tigers have to offer. Verlander went seven. Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde pitched the ninth. It looks like they’ll win the AL Central and at least be in pretty good shape to win Game One of the Division Series. I can’t imagine them winning a postseason series against either New York, Boston, or Tampa Bay, but we’ll see about that the rest of this series.
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