A sync-ing feeling for Detroit
SAN FRANCISCO -- Somewhere, somebody probably keeps a stat of the number of mound visits made by a pitching coach or manager without a pitching change being made. It'd be a safe guess that over the last two years, Tigers pitching Jeff Jones hasn't made many trips to the mound in the middle of an inning to speak with Justin Verlander.
There hasn't been much to correct or discuss with Verlander, and on top of that, he is a rhythm pitcher who thrives on a quick pace. Get the ball, stare in for the sign, nod, throw the ball, and do it all over again, frenetically. He talks fast, he moves fast, he pitches quickly.
So as Jones trudged slowly to the mound in the middle of Verlander's 38-pitch third inning in Game 1 of the World Series -- the right-hander's longest inning of the entire season -- the pitcher stared at him intensely, and maybe even with a little anger. He wasn't mad at Jones, per se; he was just mad about what had happened.
"Why are you out here?" Verlander asked Jones, with a slight smile and some gallows humor, before mentioning that all the visit had accomplished was to fire up the crowd.
And when played resumed -- with Verlander's rhythm completely destroyed -- he threw another fastball to Pablo Sandoval, who blasted a home run to left field, the second of his three on the night. "Wow," Verlander said, stunned that Sandoval's long drive had carried over the fence.
Verlander said after the game that he never felt in sync during the game, or even before, and he wasn't able to command his fastball the way he wanted even while warming up. It should be noted that in his previous start in the postseason, against the Yankees, he had struggled with his command in his last six innings of work, and during Game 1 Wednesday night, his physical gestures on the mound suggested he was working to correct his delivery.
Was it the Tigers' layoff, and the fact that Verlander was pitching with two extra days of rest? Verlander said, in all honesty, that he really didn't now if that was the reason. Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave credit to the Giants' hitters first and also mentioned the layoff, saying that Verlander was rusty.
"I can't say for sure," Verlander said.
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