Considering how many suggestions were made that Detroit’s relative layoff after sweeping New York in the ALCS left them rusty for last night’s start of the World Series against San Francisco, it’s kind of funny that Tigers P Doug Fister insisted the opposite while being quizzed during a game his club was trailing. But at least Fister had the good graces not to bury his pitching coach, something ESPN.com’s Buster Olney seems to relish in all but blaming Jeff Jones for Justin Verlander’s monumental struggles against the Giants. “It’d be a safe guess that over the last two years, Jones hasn’t made many trips to the mound in the middle of an inning to speak with Verlander,” observed Olney, which is a pretty roundabout way of denying sufficient credit to Pablo Sandoval.
As Jones trudged slowly to the mound in the middle of Verlander’s 38-pitch third inning in Game 1 of the World Series — the right-hander’s longest inning of the entire season — the pitcher stared at him intensely, and maybe even with a little anger. He wasn’t mad at Jones, per se; he was just mad about what had happened.
“Why are you out here?” Verlander asked Jones, with a slight smile and some gallows humor, before mentioning that all the visit had accomplished was to fire up the crowd.
And when played resumed — with Verlander’s rhythm completely destroyed — he threw another fastball to Sandoval, who blasted a home run to left field, the second of his three on the night. “Wow,” Verlander said, stunned that Sandoval’s long drive had carried over the fence.
Verlander said after the game that he never felt in sync during the game, or even before, and he wasn’t able to command his fastball the way he wanted even while warming up. It should be noted that in his previous start in the postseason, against the Yankees, he had struggled with his command in his last six innings of work, and during Game 1 Wednesday night, his physical gestures on the mound suggested he was working to correct his delivery.