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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Did we just witness Cy Young, MVP hopes fading?

Last year, seemed for sure that Jered Weaver's Cy Young hopes ended with his implosion, ejection in Detroit.

This year, the Angels may have paid the Tigers back, as Justin Verlander's (slim) Cy Young repeat hopes may have ended with his second straight awful road start.

"There's a lot of teams that tend to do that against me," Verlander said on Fox Sports Detroit's postgame show of the Angels' four-run, four-hit ambush in the first, which laid the baseline for the gameplan of early swinging. "But you feel like, for the most part, if you make your pitch, they're going to hit it at somebody, or hit it weakly. Just wasn't the case tonight. They were all pretty locked in, and hit the ball hard."

Even more, Miguel Cabrera's MVP chances may have taken a Weaver-esque hit, as he got ejected for arguing balls and strikes, while his prime competition, LA's Mike Trout, started the game with a homer, and ended it by pulling back a sure-fire homer off the bat of Prince Fielder (video below).

"Kinda frustrated right now, because we're in the middle of a pennant race," Cabrera said. "I don't like to (argue) ball, strike, talk bad about umpire — it's tough job, like us — but sometimes right now, with all the emotion we have, one game for us (is) a lot, playoff game. You want to (be) doing good. You don't want to take one bat away, or something away, because every pitch, they call strike or ball, is big. It's kind of frustrating, but you've got to go out there, try to control yourself, be in the game, and try to help your team win."

Still leading the world in innings pitched (210.1) and pitches thrown (3,305), Verlander is now second in the AL in WHIP (1.06), fifth in the AL in ERA (2.91). He's also still one strikeout behind teammate Max Scherzer in strikeouts.

Verlander does have the most complete games (six) in the majors, and is tied for the most quality starts (21), as well as batting average against (.216).

What's most concerning with Verlander, though, is a pair of back-to-back upsettingly bad road starts. Ten days ago in Kansas City, he gave up a career high-matching eight runs on 12 hits in 5.2 innings pitched. The 12 hits were the second-most he'd ever allowed.

Saturday, it was the fifth-most total bases he'd ever allowed (17), thanks to five doubles that tied a career high. It was the third time he'd ever allowed six extra-base hits in a start. He also fell shy of the 100-pitch plateau for the first time in 81 starts.

"Our big guy just wasn't good tonight. It's simple. You cant camouflage it, you can't hide it. You're not upset about it," manager Jim Leyland said in his postgame comments on Fox Sports Detroit. "Hopefully, get him ready for the (next start vs. the) White Sox."

Most uncomfortable? Even including his stellar start at Baltimore, when he tossed a three-hit shutout for eight innings to start the second half, Verlander's road numbers since the All-Star Game: six starts, 1-3 record, 38.2 innings, 42 hits, 20 earned runs, 4.65 ERA, 1.422 WHIP.

The Tigers have lost the last five road starts made by Verlander.

Meanwhile, Cabrera fell a tick behind Trout in batting average (.329-.328), on-base percentage (.394-.393). Cabrera still leads in OPS (.984) and slugging (.591).


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