illustrations by Samara Pearlstein
Initially this entire post was going to be about how awful the weather at Comerica looked, and how impressed I was with the people who actually bothered to show up and then sit through all or most of the game. I mean, it was like 40 degrees, and mist-raining, and foggy, and generally awful. It looked like the kind of weather that gets inside your bones so that you’re cold all the way through and it feels like you can never ever get warm again, giving you a horrible unwanted insight into what it’s like to be Joel Zumaya’s right arm.
Then I saw Juan Pierre batting and this post was going to be about the fact that he wears stirrup socks with little Wrong Sox logos over the stirrups, and he also wears his hat under his batting helmet. How is it possible that Juan Pierre is only 33? He seems like he’s just barely younger than Omar Vizquel, who is of course as old as the game of baseball itself.
BUT THEN! Then Justin Verlander threw a nasty changeup to strike out AJ Pierzynski and end the 7th inning. Verlander was still throwing heat at this late point in the game– two at-bats previous, he had thrown nothing but fastballs, 7 of them at 98mph or faster– but he took a craftier approach to Pierzynski the Loathsome.
He set up the at-bat with 97mph heat, then dug in with a changeup, two curveballs (one fouled off), and then that final tailing change. Pierzynski was badly fooled and took a stupid-looking swipe at the ball as it went by, but he tipped it straight into Alex Avila’s glove. Fieldin Culbreth signaled it all nice and clear once he saw that Avila still had the ball. Boom, strike three, inning over.
Pierzynski yelled something after the tip (at himself, I guess). Verlander stared at him with his Srs Pitching Bzns face on part of the way back to the dugout, because AJ Pierzynski is a terrible person and Justin Verlander is freakin’ awesome and also will not be trifled with.
It is worth going over this strikeout– Verlander’s 8th of the game– in loving detail, because it turned out to be
Justin Verlander’s 1,000th career strikeout!
Justin, of course, is unfazed by his own greatness.
Since Verlander was watching Pierzynski, he couldn’t see the message on the scoreboard behind him about his 1,000th career strikeout. He didn’t know about it until he stepped into the dugout and got the ball from head athletic trainer Kevin Rand.
“I said, ‘OK, great. What’s it for,” Verlander said. “A thousand strikeouts? All right. Cool. I’m not really one to follow statistics like that, so I’m glad somebody was paying attention.”
Whatever, man. We’ll be pleased and impressed on your behalf.
Sidenote: this has nothing to do with anything, really, but it was noted during the broadcast today that Pierzynski the Loathsome had gone above and beyond the usual catcher-painting-fingernails-for-visibility thing. They showed it, and sure enough, he had painted (or otherwise marked in white) his fingers halfway up to his knuckles. Like so:
I just thought, huh, I can’t remember seeing that before. Or maybe I have seen it before and just wasn’t paying attention? Either way, it was kind of cool, or would have been if it had involved anyone other than AJP.