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.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.