Saturday, October 21, 2006

Verlander to start World Series opener

Although we all think of baseball as a summer sport, the season for Major League Baseball starts with games for all 30 teams in the chilly weather of early spring. It ends with two teams playing in the World Series, which this year will begin in Detroit, where the temperature at 1 p.m. on game day is 49 degrees.

But the Tigers are hot. Manager Jim Leyland has named a flame-throwing rookie, 23-year-old Justin Verlander (pictured left), 17-9 in the regular season, to start Game One against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight. Verlander (Goochland HS, ODU) will be operating on ten days rest. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s John Markon looks at Verlander’s plum assignment.

Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell sees World Series as a match-up that favors the rested Tigers, if they pounce on the Cardinals without delay, “Short Series Would Be Sweet for the Tigers.”

“...[Detroit’s] league is better, their pitching deeper and they have the home-field frostbite advantage. They won a dozen more games than the truly humble, and currently quite injured Cardinals. Besides, Detroit just snuffed the Yankees and Athletics like contract hit men straight out of an Elmore Leonard Motor City crime caper. Blow the safe, grab the swag, no witnesses, just that telltale Tiger smell of smoke left hanging in the air from all those 98-mph fastballs.

“However, like efficient executioners, the Tigers better do their work quickly. Don't let the mark get his bearings. Right now, the Cardinals look like pigeons.”

I still can’t figure out how the Cardinals got to this point. But here they are. The Tigers do seem to have the advantages that should make the difference. But if Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds, two Cards who seem to thrive in big games, catch up with a couple of Verlander’s 100 mph heaters tonight the momentum could shift quickly.
Photo: Steve Perez, The Detroit News

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