Detroit — You can count the Angels as a group that doesn’t believe Justin Verlander’s skills are dwindling with age.
After Tigers starter Verlander nearly no-hit Mike Scioscia’s club at Comerica Park Wednesday night, the skipper and his players had nothing but praise for the former MVP, pointing out that they know what Verlander is capable of despite whispers around the league that he isn’t the pitcher he used to be.
“We’ve seen (Verlander) for a long time, and it seems as the game goes on his stuff picks up,” Scioscia said. “That’s what we saw tonight. The only difference was that he might have gotten up to 100 when he smelled it (in the past), but there’s no doubt his stuff picked up tonight.”
Chris Iannetta, who is hitting a robust .186 this season, was the one who broke up the no-no leading off the ninth inning. It wasn’t as if the Angels catcher was all smiles after the game, though.
“The most important thing is we didn’t win,” Iannetta said. “He pitched an amazing game. He’s one of the best in the league for a reason. I’m glad I got a good pitch to hit, but ultimately it was a loss.”
Angels slugger Albert Pujols has been around the block a time or two, and he claims that the Verlander of today is plenty capable of dominating like the Verlander of old.
“He’s always had good stuff,” Pujols said. “He doesn’t win MVP and Cy Youngs just because. Obviously, injuries in the past couple years have kept him down, but I think he’s throwing the ball pretty well.”
For one night, Verlander again appeared to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. And if you believe the Angels, he doesn’t appear to be heading for the type of downward spiral that so many have predicted.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.