DETROIT — In the rich and colorful history of the Detroit Tigers, it has always been about players that could hit the baseball that seemed to gather all the intention and reward of stardom but the Tigers have their share of pretty good pitchers.
Hitters like and the first inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame Ty Cobb, he raised the eyebrow and the temper of many but he also could get people attention while he stepped into the batters’ box – on the field and in the seats.
In the 30’s the Tigers’ catcher Mickey Cochran brought more than fear when he swung his bat but he had the same ferocious competitive nature behind the plate as Cobb.
He arrived in the city of Detroit as a 19 year old and he played the game of baseball with the equal amount of talent and respect for the game, he never played one minute of his professional career in minor league baseball.
Al Kaline wore his pristine white uniform with pride and played right field with a style and with a grace that the road to the Hall of Fame did not seemed to be too much of dream.
Kaline finished his playing career like he did when he started as a member of the Detroit Tigers and he managed to collect over 3,000 hits and a World Series championship.
Tiger baseball fans know about players that could hit the ball in the words of Detroit’s beloved television announcer and Hall of Fame third baseman George Kell use to say,” a country mile,” it is almost an after-thought about the history of this franchise and the many pitchers that have made a statement from the middle of the diamond.
Pitchers with fastballs that screamed and blazed across the plate, curve balls that bend more than the shore line of the Detroit River and hurlers that there demeanor were sometimes more turbulent that any batter walking up to the plate needed to pay attention because it was just the tremendous pride in the one-on-one battle with any man that carried a bat to the plate.
The old timers recall the great Hal Newhouse and Virgil Trucks weaving their style of magic leading the Tigers from the mound.
Back in the enchanting year of 1968, the Detroit Tiger pitching staff would stay the course and lead the Tigers to the promise land of being world champions of major league baseball and defeating the mighty St Louis Cardinals.
The last major league pitcher to win 30 games the Tigers’ Denny McLain threw a hard fastball and had plenty of personality that captured the city but if it was not for the heroic left arm of Mickey Lolich the comeback against the Cardinals would have fallen short.
When the Tigers were in the middle of leaner years back in the 70’s a pitching phenom arrived and Mark Fydrich would win 19 games and he would talk to the baseball and make sure that the mound inside Tiger Stadium was manicured to his liking, he would pitch in the All-Star game but like a cup of coffee in the major league he disappeared.
Pizza company founder of Domino’s Pizza, Tom Monahan bought the Tigers in 1984 little did he know that there would be a special type of magic in the air?
Leading the charge for the Tigers a pitcher many players have said was the meanest and nastiest player to ever pick up a baseball and throw, Jack Morris and his tremendous split finger fast ball arrived and the Tigers would follow him into the World Series and won only because they would have to face the wrath of Morris who admitted that he hated to lose
Last night Wednesday July 4, 2012 the Detroit Tigers defeated the mighty Minnesota Twins 5-1 and the 41,000 that waited for 2 ½ hours for the rain to move out of the area because the wait was well worth it. Just to watch Justin Verlander throw his fifth complete game of the season and earn his ninth win of the season made the night special.
Verlander said prior to the game that he rediscovered his changeup and that could have been the worst news that the Twins’ batters needed to hear, the fact that Verlander rediscovered another pitch in his lethal arsenal.
Verlander threw the ball with even more confident against the Twins, his fastball reached 98 mile per hour late in the game, his curve ball over matched many Twins and his other pitch the one that he rediscovered looked as good as it ever had – it had a lot of batters guessing and Twins’ batters could only take might whiffs at the ball only hitting the thick warm air inside Comerica Park.
“It got sharper as the game went on,” Tigers’ catcher Alex Avila said. “Today it was fantastic.”
“The big guys took care of us tonight,” Detroit Tiger manager Jim Leyland said after the game. “That’s just what we needed.”
Verlander won the award for the most valuable player in 2012 in the American League, he might be proving it again this season too, and he is an example of a being a pitching ace.
He struck out seven, walked one and gave up one earned run, a home run to Twins’ first baseman Chris Parmelee.
Leyland is making known his opinion; he believes that Verlander should be given a serious thought by this year’s manager of the American League All-Star team Ron Washington to start the All-Star Game.
Verlander is leading the major leagues with 128 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.58; he did not get the start last season because he started the game the Sunday before the 2011 All-Star game.
“You’re not owed anything in this game,” Verlander said. “It would be nice, I’d like to have that one on the resume but there are some other guys out there having fantastic years.”
Next week, July 10, 2012, under the lights of Kauffman Stadium the home of the Kansas City Royals, Verlander will step onto the field with rest of the All-Stars from both leagues and he will be a shining example of the pitching rich and tradition that is Detroit Tiger baseball.
For Washington the choice to start the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City, Missouri should be no riddle because he owes the start of the game to best pitcher in baseball.