Understand this about Verlander: He is, at 29, mellower than in his younger days — on the mound, at least. He usually throws in the low 90s during the early innings. That allows him to establish a consistent delivery — the foundation from which he later ascends to 97, 98, 99 and, yes, 100. The method is rare, but it has helped Verlander become the best pitcher in baseball.
Well, Verlander didn’t use it Tuesday. He didn’t even try. Basically, he had it in his mind that folks in the ballpark — and those watching around the world — wanted to see him throw the baseball as hard as he possibly could. And when that sort of notion germinates in the brain of Justin Brooks Verlander, it brings about a collision of machismo and talent more combustible than July fireworks….
I’ve heard Verlander rationalize after poor starts. That wasn’t the case Tuesday. If anything, his postgame remarks showed that he understands the principle of the All-Star Game. It is meant to showcase the best talents in baseball. It is meant to delight fans, in the stadium and at home. It is meant to humanize stars we see fleetingly the rest of the season.
When he pitches for the Tigers, Verlander’s job is to win. Tuesday, his job was to entertain. And he did that, as much as any pitcher could while saddling his AL teammates with what proved to be an insurmountable deficit.