Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander loses no-hitter in eighth, Jered Weaver ejected

10 Comments

3:45 p.m. EDT: It’s over, with the Tigers winning 3-2.  Jose Valverde replaced Verlander to start the ninth and walked leadoff man Bobby Abreu, but he bounced back to retire the next three batters.  Erick Aybar, who started the eighth-inning rally with his bunt, popped up foul to end it.

We’ll likely be hearing more about this one in a bit.  Mike Scioscia was tossed along with Weaver, and both manager press conferences could be tasty.

3:21 p.m. EDT: The no-hitter is gone and Detroit’s lead has been cut to 3-2 as the result of a Maicer Izturis two-out RBI single to left field.  Verlander may have lost his composure a bit, but much of the blame here needs to go third baseman Don Kelly, who didn’t take the easy out on Peter Bourjos’ grounder and who also contributed to botching the rundown.  Verlander should have been out of the inning.

3:17 p.m. EDT: After a groundout put Aybar on third, Peter Bourjos grounded to third baseman Don Kelly.  Rather than take the sure out, Kelly went home and put Aybar into a rundown.  Aybar, though, escaped what was a pretty ugly rundown from the Tigers when Verlander, who was definitely nudged by the baserunner, dropped the ball.  It’s 3-1 Tigers, but the no-hitter remains intact with one out in the eighth.  Verlander is now over 100 pitches.

3:12 p.m. EDT: Gotta love the drama.  Erick Aybar broke the unwritten rule by dropping down a bunt on the first pitch of the eighth.  It wasn’t a very good one, and Verlander had a play on him, but he threw wildly of first base for what was ruled, by Detroit’s official scorer, an error on the pitcher.

3:05 p.m. EDT: And this game has suddenly taken a dramatic turn.  Carlos Guillen decided to show Weaver up after a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh, and Weaver responded by throwing his very next pitch at Alex Avila’s head.  Fortunately, it sailed over Avila’s head.  Weaver was immediately tossed, as he knew he would be the moment he let the pitch go.

Now Verlander is going to have a much longer wait than anticipated headed into the eighth inning.

2:50 p.m. EDT: Verlander walked Abreu for a second time in the seventh inning, but he got through the frame without a hit.  He’s six outs away from another piece of history.

///

Justin Verlander, who pitched his second career no-hitter back on May 7 against the Blue Jays, has held the Angels hitless through six innings Sunday.

Verlander walked Bobby Abreu in the fourth inning, but he’s retired the other 18 hitters he’s faced.  He struck out six and threw 76 pitches through the six innings.

Thanks to a Magglio Ordonez homer in the third, the Tigers are up 2-0.  Jered Weaver is on the mound for the Angels and has allowed just three hits himself.

If Verlander can do it again, he’d join Nolan Ryan (seven), Sandy Koufax, (four), Larry Corcoran (three), Bob Feller (three) and Cy Young (three) as the only pitchers with more than two no-hitters.

Joe Mauer reveals he’s had blurred vision since 2013 concussion

Joe Mauer
2 Comments

After a decade as the best all-around catcher in baseball Joe Mauer suffered a concussion in August of 2013 that forced him to change positions and marked the end of his time as a great hitter.

Mauer was doing his usual thing at the time of the concussion, hitting .324 with a .404 on-base percentage and .880 OPS. Since returning from the brain injury he’s hit .270 with a .348 on-base percentage and .725 OPS while seeing his numbers decline across the board.

Mauer revealed today to Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “lingering symptoms occasionally blurred his vision at the plate the past two seasons” and “he will experiment hitting with sunglasses for the first time to improve his pitch tracking” this season.

Here’s more from Murphy:

Bright sunshine sometimes triggered blurred vision that Mauer links to the concussion with which he was diagnosed in August 2013 after absorbing at least “two significant blows” from foul tips while he was still catching.

“I don’t want that to be kind of an excuse. If I’m out there, I’m out there. That’s just the way I am,” Mauer said. “There are times I’ve gone up to the plate and I just couldn’t pick up the ball. That’s part of the frustration because I’m trying to do everything I can to get back. It just takes time.”

There are more quotes along those same lines and Mauer’s numbers in night games were much better than his numbers in day games last season.

I live in Minnesota and it has been incredibly frustrating to see such a large (or at least vocal) segment of the Twins fan base treat Mauer’s steep decline as if it has nothing to do with the significant brain trauma he suffered. I’m hopeful that Mauer going public about literally struggling to see the baseball while at the plate will convince people to treat him more humanely, but that’s probably wishful thinking at this point.

What a shame, on every level.

Masahiro Tanaka can’t say for sure if he’ll be ready by Opening Day

tanaka
Leave a comment

Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka said today that he “can’t say for sure” whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

Tanaka underwent arthroscopic surgery in late November to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October and, while healthy, may be behind other pitchers.

Tanaka posted a 3.51 ERA and a 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season. He also has a partially torn UCL he’s been pitching through for some time which is always something the Yankees have on their mind when it comes to schedules and workouts for their ace.

Denard Span, not Angel Pagan, will be Giants’ center fielder and leadoff hitter

Denard Span
3 Comments

Making official what was assumed when the Giants signed Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract last month, manager Bruce Bochy announced that Span will start in center field and bat leadoff.

That means 34-year-old Angel Pagan, who’s been the Giants’ starting center fielder and primary leadoff hitter for the past four seasons, will slide to left field and bat further down in the lineup. About a month before the Span signing Bochy said Pagan would remain in the center fielder/leadoff role, but the situation obviously changed.

It’s a move that makes sense, because Span–if healthy following hip surgery–is a superior defensive center fielder with better on-base skills. And if Pagan doesn’t bounce back following a rough 2015 season then having him in left field will make it easier for the Giants to platoon him or bench him in favor of, say, Gregor Blanco or a bigger bat.

Pitchers to receive new visor-like protective headgear

Headgear
MLB/MLBPA
12 Comments

For the past few years MLB, the MLBPA and cap and helmet manufacturers have been working on various models of protective headgear for pitchers. Some of the models have been unworkable, some of them have not met the satisfaction of pitchers and others have, well, looked a little odd. At present the only pitcher who routinely wears any headgear is Alex Torres, who wears the bulky isoBLOX helmet.

Now, however, there is a new option. And, as you can see above it’s a bit different than what we’ve seen before. It’s more or less like a visor, which will have a nylon top on them to give a full cap-like appearance. The ear flaps will be lefty and righty-specific, given that righties are more likely to be hit on the right and lefties on the left given their follow-throughs.

The new caps will be given out to players this spring and, like the old ones, will be used or not used at the choice of the players. You can read more about the new helmet at ESPN’s Outside the Lines report.