Add Justin Verlander‘s name to the list of Detroit Tigers’ players that have made it known they have noticed the fans’ behavior, as he stated “I wish they were a little more positive” after Friday night’s 5-4 extra innings victory for the Tigers over the playoff-bound Kansas City Royals.
More from Motor City Bengals
- Detroit Tigers: Is it finally time to move the fences in at Comerica Park?
- Detroit Tigers: Riley Greene continues to impress with his performance
- Detroit Tigers: Outlook on Jace Jung is a little concerning
- The Detroit Tigers’ GM search reeks of incompetence
- Detroit Tigers: 3 things to learn from the Orioles rebuild
Verlander pitched another gem for the Tigers, and was just one strike away from finishing his second complete game of the season. With Detroit leading 3-1, from two runs manufactured against Johnny Cueto in the eighth inning to get the lead in a pitching duel, Eric Hosmer dropped a soft base hit just over Ian Kinsler to keep his team alive.
With Alex Wilson and Blaine Hardy warming in the bullpen, manager Brad Ausmus decided to pull Verlander after 114 pitches. As he came out of the dugout and motioned for Wilson, 32,000+ let their lame duck skipper hear it, serenading him with a cascade of boos.
The boos quickly turned to a cheering ovation for their former and current ace as he headed to the dugout after a job well done. A couple pitches later, Wilson allowed a homer to tie the game, giving Verlander a no-decision after a spectacular performance of two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts.
Three innings later, the Tigers won in dramatic fashion, fighting back after the Royals took the lead in the top half of the 12th to walk-off with their third straight win.
Nonetheless, you can understand that despite the win, Verlander (3-8, 3.46) was probably frustrated. Since Aug 9, spanning eight starts, he’s allowed two or less runs six times, yet only has two victories to show during that time. It seems like in most of his starts he gets no run support, and in the starts he does get support, the bullpen blows it.
After the game, Verlander had this to say to reporters:
"“There were a lot of positives tonight. I’m a big believer in positive energy, positive vibes, and I don’t think that was a good situation to boo. We have a lot of good things going, here comes our reliever in to a bunch of boos — obviously he knows they’re not for him — but I just didn’t think that was the right situation. I wish they were a little more positive in that situation.”"
We discussed the Victor Martinez‘s take on the fans this week on Friday, a sentiment that has been also talked about by Nick Castellanos. Verlander now joins the crowd. However where I saw V-Mart’s point, I think J.V. might be a bit off base here.
The booing of the manager in removing a starter that has been lights out because of pitch count is nothing new. It happens on Opening Day, on the 4th of July, in the World Series. This was not the fans voicing their displeasure because of their anger over lackluster play, but rather vocalizing their support for Verlander staying in the game.
Verlander did understand this point.
"“Obviously, the fans wanted me to stay in — I wanted to stay in — but that’s the manager’s call. Hindsight being 20/20, I’m sure it didn’t happen the way Brad would’ve liked — you know [that was] probably the worst-case scenario — but I think you look at the big overall picture.I don’t feel like it’s left over from last year. Again, you want to talk positives. You want to talk positive vibes. Cheering is always better than booing, but at the same time, these fans have done an incredible job of showing up and being here and cheering for us. They have the right to boo. It is what it is. But you don’t like to hear it as a player. You don’t like to hear it in the dugout.”"
Justin is great with the media, he understands that he can criticize fans but also praise them. Indeed the Tigers, closing in on last place, still drew over 30,000 fans on Friday, which is why he acknowledged them showing up.