Justin Verlander fans 14 to defeat Yankees

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Justin Verlander became the first pitcher since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 1999 to strike out at least 14 Yankees in a 7-2 victory for the Tigers on Monday.

Verlander pitched eight innings and allowed both runs in easily outdueling Ivan Nova on the night. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera homered off Nova, who ended up allowing all seven Tigers runs in 5 1/3 innings. He fell to 10-6 on the year.

Verlander is now 12-7, and he put himself in rare company in tonight’s 132-pitch outing. Just 11 pitchers since 1918 (and probably ever) had struck out at least 14 Yankees.

Urban Shocker – 1920 Browns – 14
Hal Newhouser – 1943 Tigers – 14
Connie Johnson – 1957 Orioles – 14
Jim Bunning – 1958 Tigers – 14
Sam McDowell –  1968 Indians – 14
Moose Haas – 1978 Brewers – 14
Mark Langston – 1986 Mariners – 14
Mike Moore – 1988 Mariners – 16
Chuck Finley – 1995 Angels – 15
Curt Schilling – 1997 Phillies – 16
Pedro Martinez – 1999 Red Sox – 17

With the win, Verlander is now 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 lifetime starts versus the Bombers.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.