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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.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Billy Butler doesn't like to talk about his success against Justin Verlander

DETROIT — First rule of “Eat Verlander’s Lunch” club: You don’t talk about the club, even if you’re the president.

Billy Butler, the burly Royals designated hitter who has a higher average vs. the Tigers ace than anyone with more than 30 at-bats, lives by that credo.

“I’m not going to answer any specific questions about Verlander, so just move on from that,” Butler said after the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, when he went

“I just don’t like to talk about personal success against somebody.”

He’s had enough chances.

Friday, he went 2-for-3 with a walk against Verlander, raising his career average to .443 in the head-to-head battle.

It’s not gotten to the point, though, where Verlander feels like he’s out of options on what to throw him.

“No, I mean, I didn’t throw him very good pitches tonight. Obviously he puts good swings on my pitches,” the pitcher admitted. “But here’s a guy with nobody on hits a single, and it’s probably going to take either a single or a double, or three hits to score him. He’s not the fleetest of foot. He’s not going to steal a base. It’s not the end-all, be-all. And most of his hits off have been singles.”

Both the hits Friday were indeed singles, as 20 of his 26 career hits off JV have been. Twelve players — including current teammate Victor Martinez (four) — have hit more home runs off Verlander than Butler’s two, the last of which came in July of 2009.

(At the mention of which Verlander knocked loudly on his wooden locker.)

“He hasn’t really hurt him with longballs, so much,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Obviously sees him good. I think sometimes it becomes a little bit of a mind game.”

Leyland even lifted Verlander once with Butler on deck late in a game, knowing that the matchup was not going to go well.

But it’s a case of winning the battle vs. winning the war.

Verlander came into Friday’s matchup sporting a 15-3 record and a 2.74 ERA against the Royals, which led all active pitchers with more than

“Obviously, in our career, we’ve had the short end of the stick off him more times than not. We’ve been pretty good off him this year, but there’s been a lot of years where we haven’t been,” said Butler, who was willing to talk about how Verlander threw. “He had his typical stuff, man. ... Our guy on our side just pitched a little bit better. That’s usually tough to do. ... Our pitching staff has been there all year. We won the game today because our guy, Danny Duff, outdueled Justin Verlander. That’s exactly what it was. It was a pitching duel.”

Anything else is club business. Very hush-hush.


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