illustration by Samara Pearlstein
At first there was cause for alarm. Justin Verlander was not himself. It was almost as if he was, maybe, perhaps, just possibly locked in a struggle with a certain dangerous creature— a titanic struggle that would split the earth beneath our feet, shake the stars free of their moorings, rend asunder the very molecules of the air.
In short: Adam Dunn hit a two-run homer in the first inning. His batting average is worse than that of the late lamented Brandon Inge. That is not ok.
The Tigers came back to take the lead in the sixth. But in the bottom of that very inning, Paul Konerko hit another two-run homer to tie it. Verlander bent over on the mound in a paroxysm of agony. The gnawing! The gnawing! O, the terrible gnawing!
The Tigers small-balled in a runner in the top of the 8th, thanks to the quick feet of Andy Dirks (!!) and an RBI single from Wilson Betemit (sigh). The lead had been regained. Verlander, who had already thrown thousands of pitches, came in for the bottom of the 8th.
Juan Pierre and his oversized batting helmet grounded out. Alexei Ramirez and his alien face walked. Stupid Paul Konerko foul tipped out, technically, but it was in truth a strikeout of such overpowering force that Tigers fans watching in the stands and on TV fainted dead away, overcome. Verlander’s 120th pitch of the night was 100 mph and constructed of pure filth.
And what of Adam Dunn, the Spazzosaurus-accomplice from earlier in the evening? He was simply set up with 99 mph heat, then absolutely destroyed with 82 mph curveballs.
Justin Verlander made a fist and did a much more sedate, white-dude version of a Papa Grande dance. He (Duane) bellowed into the night sky, a wordless cry of triumph and defiance. For he is JUSTIN VERLANDER, and he will not be held down by the Wrong Sox, be they aided by Spazzosauri or satanic forces summoned by AJ Pierzynski or otherwise. He will rise from the ashes of Adam Dunn home runs like a phoenix with the Olde English D on its wings, and if those ashes have to be stirred by the bat of Wilson Betemit to help the phoenix rise, so be it. Justin Verlander is not above accepting help from his teammates. But he IS above the Wrong Sox. Thank cats. Praise be to Paws. Hail Verlander.