The Rangers’ manager and players weren’t happy Verlander used the All-Star Game on Tuesday night to show off his triple-figure velocity, as opposed to his pitching.
Verlander put the American League in a 5-0 hole in the first inning, which essentially meant there was little chance to avoid a third consecutive year for the National League to have home-field advantage in the World Series.
His first pitch of the night was clocked at 97 mph, and he threw six that were clocked at 100 or 101, including the first two after pitching coach Mike Maddux visited the mound and suggested he slow it down.
Verlander’s response was that it was too late now, even though at that point there were two outs and only one run in.
Verlander told reporters afterward that he decided to try to overpower hitters rather than first setting them up, as he normally does.
“I just expected him to be Verlander,” Washington said. “Go out and get outs like he always does. Just couldn’t get the ball down early.”
It was an inning that AL teams won’t forget, even as they say they can overcome it.
“If our team is fortunate enough to get in that position, we’d rather have home-field advantage,” Rangers closer Joe Nathan said. “But that’s not going to be what makes or breaks us.”
Some people close to the Rangers have said Washington thought Chris Sale deserved to start but was pressured to go with Verlander, based on his standing in the game.
HAMMER TIME: The Pittsburgh Pirates were aggressive in trying to improve their lineup after a strong first half last season, adding Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick in midseason trades.
Lee played five games and got hurt, and Ludwick didn’t produce. But they are preparing to be even more aggressive this time around.
An assistant general manager from one of the teams that will be sellers says the Pirates have been “the most active team” in making calls to set up potential high-impact trades.
They have inquired about all the pitchers who are either available now or could be by July 31 – Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.