Ever since the ALCS began, all we’ve heard about is how the Red Sox are going to have to get past Justin Verlander. Because, as you’ve no doubt read and witnessed, he is “aces” this postseason and “unstoppable” and apparently reduces opponents to ash with just a wave of his hand.
In other words, it would behoove us to simply mark his start today in game three down as an automatic loss, forfeit the game, and focus on how to solve Doug Fister in game four.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Verlander. I know he’s good. Damn good. If the Avengers were recruiting, I’m sure he’d be one of the first to get a call. Certainly before Ant Man.
But the fact is, the dude is human. And in 2013, he’s been especially human. Gold in the playoffs, for sure. But in the regular season, he’s been had, losing to the Yankees, Mariners (twice), Indians, Rangers, Orioles, White Sox (twice), Royals (thrice) and A’s.
Does that mean the Red Sox, still high off their improbable game two comeback win, will simply stroll into Comerica today and hand him a beat-down? Not at all. In fact, our less-than-stellar returns at Comerica this season, a meager 1-3 during a June visit, doesn’t exactly boost the confidence. All I’m saying is that even though everyone in the free world seems to expect Verlander to continue his mastery of all comers, nothing is guaranteed. Pedro Martinez was the best of the best, and often the only thing we could count on in the playoffs. But even he could be outdone by one bad pitch or a sleepy-eyed manager with a slow hook.
Either way, today’s game is huge. If the Tigers win, they get a 2-1 edge and a legitimate chance to end this series on their home turf. If the Sox win, they will have completely shattered the Tigers’ confidence by winning both games started by the Dynamic Duo. And, if nothing else, they will have also assured themselves of a possible trip back to Boston.
You could say that after Sunday’s loss, the greater pressure is on the Tigers to restore balance to the universe and keep fans and local beat writers from readying the lifeboats. And having the hometown crowd at their backs and their ace on the hill will no doubt give them all the swagger.
But just two games in, I’m already ready to expect the improbable. And that anything can happen.