Justin Verlander does Justin Verlander things as Tigers defeat A’s in Game 1 of ALDS

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It didn’t look good for the Tigers when A’s speedster Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning of Saturday night’s ALDS Game 1 in Detroit. But that feeling changed pretty quickly.

Verlander settled in after Crisp’s shot to right field, yielding just two hits over the rest of his outing while fanning 11 total batters in an eventual 3-1 victory.

The right-hander was hitting 98 mph with his fastball in the seventh inning, even with temperatures hovering just above 40 degrees at Comerica Park.

According to ESPN’s Stats & Info, Verlander is the first American League pitcher to rack up 11 or more strikeouts over seven innings or fewer in a postseason game since Pedro Martinez in 1999. At one point, the Tigers’ ace punched out five Oakland hitters in a row.

Things should get a little easier for the A’s in Game 2 against Doug Fister, but it’s safe to say they have their backs against the wall in this five-game divisional series. With one more game to play in the Motor City.

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.