Verlander bummed about boos for skipper
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander's outing started later than he would've liked, thanks to a 23-minute lighting delay, and ended earlier than he would've liked after manager Brad Ausmus' move to go to the bullpen with Salvador Perez up in the ninth.
Neither was Verlander's call, but he wasn't going to lament them. It all worked out as the Tigers rallied for a 5-4 win in 12 innings over the Royals on Friday night.
"I always want the ball, so it's up to the manager to take me out," Verlander said. "It was that way with [Jim] Leyland, and it's that way with Brad. If I've ever got the decision, I want to stay in. Those guys know that, and that's their decision to make."
The ninth inning was a decision looming from the point Verlander ended the eighth at exactly 100 pitches. Perez was due up fourth in a 3-1 game, so the only way he could come up would be as the potential tying or go-ahead run, most likely with Verlander's pitch count nearing a point of concern.
Perez was a concern for Verlander at any point -- 20-for-41 off the right-hander for his career entering the night. Perez grounded out twice and singled once in the first three at-bats to move to 6-for-9 for the season against Verlander, whose pitching renaissance this summer had no effect on Kansas City's sweet-swinging catcher.
On the flip side, Verlander retired eight consecutive batters and allowed only one hit after the fifth inning before Eric Hosmer's single with two out in the ninth. Verlander was churning towards a complete game, and it took Hosmer fouling off an 0-2 curveball and turning on a fastball to extend the game for Perez.
That said, Ausmus noted the first two outs were both well hit -- Mike Moustakas lining a ball that sent J.D. Martinez towards the track in right, then Kendrys Morales flying out to center.
"It was all three [factors]," Ausmus said. "He was at 114 pitches, Perez has hit .450 off him over the course of 40 plate appearances, he's got nine extra-base hits. The last three guys barreled the ball up on Ver. I thought it was a no-brainer."
Many fans disagreed, and they let Ausmus know on his way to the mound, booing as he emerged from the dugout. Verlander didn't lobby to stay in, knowing Ausmus had pointed to the bullpen already, calling for right-hander Alex Wilson.
Verlander left with the weird split of cheers for him and jeers for his manager's choice to pull him. As Verlander neared the dugout steps, he motioned to the crowd to start cheering.
"There were a lot of positives tonight," Verlander said, "and I'm a big believer in positive energy, positive vibes. And I don't think that was a good situation to boo. We've got a lot of good things going; here comes our reliever in to a bunch of boos. Obviously, granted, it's not for him, but I just didn't think that was the right situation.
"I wished they were a little more positive in that situation. Granted, I've been booed, everybody's been booed. It happens. But I'm a firm believer in positive energy."
Wilson said he wasn't worried about the reaction. He was focused on Perez, who he had retired on a double play in the seventh inning of a one-run game in May.
"I'm not a guy that's focusing on the crowd at all," Wilson said. "I'm there to do one job. I do hear it, but it's not really registering to me."
Two pitches later, Perez silenced the crowd altogether, launching the game-tying home run to left.
"It was an 0-1 cutter that just spun, unfortunately," Wilson said. "I think it was the right pitch, I just didn't execute it."
Verlander tried to shoulder the responsibility himself.
"I mean, inevitably, if I get Hosmer out, this is nothing to talk about," Verlander said. "I wish I had gotten him out."