A first since 2008: Justin Verlander loses three straight

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Behind a sterling effort from Phil Hughes, the Yankees took down Justin Verlander and the Tigers 5-1 on Sunday, sending Detroit’s ace to his third straight loss.

Verlander, the AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP last year, was charged with all five runs in his 6 1/3 innings of work, though only three were earned. He gave up nine hits, two of them homers, and walked four in the contest.

It’s the first time since 2008 that Verlander has lost three straight. In fact, when Verlander lost to the Red Sox on Tuesday, it marked just the third time since the beginning of the 2009 season that he had suffered a two-game losing streak.

Verlander was very good in the first start of the losing streak, when he dropped a 2-1 game to the Indians, but he’s now given up five runs in back-to-back starts. His ERA stands at 2.67, which is the highest he’s finished an outing at since last June 9.

Hughes, on the other hand, turned in one of the best efforts of his career, throwing just his second complete game in 82 starts. He allowed four hits, walked three and struck out eight in earning his fifth win today.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.