Friday, May 17, 2013
Verlander-Darvish duel never materializes
As early as last weekend, I was hearing some national commentators salivate over Thursday's scheduled showdown between Detroit ace Justin Verlander and Texas ace Yu Darvish.
It was understandable to a point. Darvish entered the contest with a 6-1 record and a league-leading 80 strikeouts. Verlander was off to a mediocre 4-3 start, but hey, that 1.93 ERA was nothing to sneeze at, right?
I think people were going a little over the top, though, when they claimed this pitching matchup was the biggest one in Texas since Nolan Ryan beat Roger Clemens 2-1 in 1989. Those two guys are 300-game winners. Both Verlander and Darvish have a ways to go before they can be considered in that class. (Although, I'll admit Verlander might be on his way.)
Much to the surprise of many experts, the Rangers defeated the Tigers 10-4 Thursday night. Neither pitcher was on top of his game, and Verlander was downright awful. He didn't survive the third inning, allowing eight earned runs. Darvish, meanwhile, was shaky early. He allowed four earned runs over his first four innings, but settled down to retire 15 of the final 16 Tiger hitters he faced. He threw a career-high 130 pitches over eight innings to earn his seventh victory of the season.
The third inning of this game lasted a lifetime. The Tigers got three runs in the top half off Darvish, before the Rangers responded with seven runs in the bottom half. During the third inning, Verlander and Darvish combined to throw 74 pitches, giving up 12 baserunners and 10 runs. So much for that pitcher's duel.
Word to the wise: Don't ever think you've got baseball figured out. When you expect an epic pitching battle, you're probably going to end up with a slugfest.
Jeff Keppinger walks!
It only took 141 plate appearances, but White Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger finally drew his first walk of the season Thursday night.
The offending pitcher was Angels right-hander Michael Kohn, who somehow was wild enough to walk Keppinger on four pitches. Not only that, the bases were loaded at the time.
Keppinger's walk in the top of the eighth inning forced in the eventual winning run in a Sox 5-4 victory. Yet another example of how you should expect the unexpected in baseball.