Verlander Dominated, but AJax Played Too Deep
Posted on June 18, 2011
This post was written by Nick Shlain, a Journalism student at Eastern Michigan University. He writes for Detroit Baseball Page.com. You can follow him on Twitter @nshlain. Look for occasional posts from Nick on The Daily Fungo.
I thought he had it. I really did. Earlier in the year I wrote that Justin Verlander could have another no-hitter this summer and I still believe that (he’ll face the Indians again, right?).
Tuesday night was the tenth time in Verlander’s career that he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. It was also his third complete game of the year and second shutout. And third career two-hitter.
With a league-leading 105 strikeouts and microscopic 0.87 WHIP there is little debate over who should start the All-Star Game for the American League at this point.
Verlander dominated with 40 fastballs that registered above 95+ mph, but also was very consistent with his curveball and changeup. It was probably his best start of the year in that regard.
I remember marveling at Verlander after his no-no in Toronto because he threw it without the command of his curveball. He only had four strikeouts in that start, the last of which came on a slider to Rajai Davis to end the game. He was able to get weak contact by pounding the zone with his fastball the entire night.
Verlander was a different kind of dominant Tuesday night as he was able to baffle the Indians with tremendous breaking stuff as he set down 12 on strikes, including Grady Sizemore four times.
The no-hitter was lost with one out in the 8th inning when Orlando Cabrera lined a 99-mph fastball that was on the outside corner into shallow center.
Most people are saying this was a bad break for Verlander as Cabrera happened to put a nice swing on it, but if there’s anything to complain about on the play its that centerfielder Austin Jackson was simply just playing too deep. In my opinion, he’s playing too deep for Orlando Cabrera at anytime of the game.
It was just Monday that Comerica Park saw how shallow B.J. Upton plays anyone and everyone. It burned Upton and the Rays when Miguel Cabrera and
Ramon Santiago hit balls that he wasn’t able to cutoff, but the true mark of a great centerfielder is how shallow you play. Torii Hunter isn’t the best centerfielder of the generation because he makes highlight catches, its Andruw Jones because he played shallow and still got to basically everything in the same zip code.
If I’m Austin Jackson, I’d have taken a few big steps in and make the not-so-scary
Cabrera hit the ball over my head. Upton was playing in with Joel Peralta on the mound against Miguel (!) Cabrera late in a tight game.
Late in a no-hitter with the Tigers leading by four and Verlander is pumping 99-mph gas there is no excuse for playing Cabrera that deep in that spot. Where he was playing he had no shot, but if he’s playing in with his closing speed he definitely has a shot a catching it with a few steps and a dive.