Torn between dreams and grim reality, Verlander soldiers on

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

The story has been updated to correct the number of games the Tigers have lost in their last 11.

Arlington, Texas — It would be hard to accurately describe Justin Verlander’s mood after the Tigers’ 10-4 loss to the Rangers Tuesday. 
Wistful, perhaps. Contemplative.

“The moments right now are just kind of fleeting,” he said. “Good moments or bad moments.”

Verlander is trying to come to grips with being on a team that's playing out the string. He hasn't done much of that in his career. He talked about the mixed emotions of last Saturday, the night Justin Upton hit a walk-off home run to beat the Twins.

BOX SCORE: Rangers 10, Tigers 4

“I told J-Up the other day, after he hit that walk-off — it kind of sucks,” Verlander said. “That was a huge moment, a really cool moment. We all celebrated. We all came back into the clubhouse, great game, great game. But for what?

“Yeah, it’ll look good on the back of his bubble gum card and it got us all excited because we won a ballgame. Great. But most of the time that I’ve been here, when those great moments happen, they mean something more than just that moment.”

Not this year. The loss Tuesday was the Tigers ninth in their last 11. They are a season-worst 13 games under .500. Wins or losses, they don’t mean much either way.

“It stinks,” Verlander said. “It’s not a lot of fun. But it’s part of this game. I’ve been fortunate to be in the hunt for 10 of my 12 seasons here, at this point in the season. Hopefully, that can continue.

“But for right now, do your job. We’re still professionals. We’re paid a lot of money to play this game. And I still take extreme pride in going out there and doing everything I can to help us win ballgames.”

The rumor mill will continue to throw out Verlander’s name in possible trade scenarios for the next two weeks. The Astros are apparently still kicking the tires. And Verlander didn’t duck it — he’s dreamed about perhaps making a run to the World Series wearing a different uniform.

“I have the ultimate say-so, so that makes it easier,” he said of his power to veto any trade. “They have to approach me first. But I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my mind. My dreams tell me otherwise.


“I think I do a good job of putting everything in the back of my mind. But there’s been nights when I wake up and remember dreams of who knows what team I’m going to. It’s on my mind, that’s for sure. But it doesn’t prohibit me from doing my job here.”

Verlander was dominant in his five previous starts, posting a .181 opponent’s batting average, 1.80 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. On Tuesday, though, the home run ball bit him.

Catcher Robinson Chirinos hit a hanging slider out to left with two outs in a 29-pitch third inning. In the fourth, Verlander yielded 875 feet of monster home runs back-to-back to Joey Gallo and Mike Napoli.

“Really, just one bad inning,” Verlander said. “Two bad sliders (to Chirinos and Napoli) and one heater.”

Starters leaving Tigers in mound of despair

Gallo launched a 96-mph fastball 459 feet into the second deck in right center, a two-run shot — his 34th home run. Napoli followed, slamming a hanging slider 416 feet to left center — his 24th. Verlander had allowed five home runs in six starts in July. He’s allowed five in three starts in August.

“All in all, not a horrible start,” he said. “But I would have liked better results than that. Hopefully, giving up home runs like that isn’t the norm.”

Verlander has said in the past that he didn’t want to be a part of full rebuilding project in Detroit. But as he looked around the clubhouse Tuesday, he didn’t think there was going to be one.

“Right now, look around — Miggy (Cabrera) is going to be back. I’ll probably be back. (Ian) Kinsler will be back. J-Up will be back,” he said. “A lot of other teams would say that’s a pretty good core. Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a pretty good core.

“There is a bright side to look at than there is right now.”

Verlander talked about how quickly teams like the Yankees and Brewers went from rebuilding to contending. He was asked if he could honestly envision the Tigers winning again that quickly.

“That’s all I envision,” he said. “As long as I am part of this organization, my plan is to win. I’m not a negative person. Even when I’m going through tough times. I’m not one to sit here and say, ‘Woe is me, woe is this organization.’

“I’m not that person and I hope the other people in this locker room aren’t that person either. As long as I’m wearing the Olde English D, we’re going to win.”

Twitter: @cmccosky