Justin Verlander has his best start in two years

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Just when everyone was starting to write him off — or, at the very least, write him off until he made some adjustments — Justin Verlander came out this afternoon and posted his best start since 2013, tossing eight innings of one-run ball and striking out 10 in the Tigers 2-1 win against the Rays.

He needed to be that good, though, given that Chris Archer nearly matched him. Indeed, Archer retired the first 19 batters he faced before allowing a Jose Iglesias infield single. A fielder’s choice and a couple of singles later and the Tigers had their two. Which would stand for the game.

Apart from allowing a homer to Asdrubal Cabrera, Verlander was masterful. It was his first double-digit strikeout game with no walks for since Sept. 24, 2010. It was his first double-digit strikeout game period since September 2013. More importantly, he was changing speeds, using his breaking ball as an out pitch when, just a couple of weeks ago, he seemed overly-reliant on his heat.

This was Verlander’s second straight eight inning, one-run start, the last being on Friday against Boston.

Seems Verlander is finally coming around.

Padres fire Andy Green

Andy Green
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The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.

Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:

I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.

In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.

“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”

Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.

For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.