I don't remember the last pitcher I've enjoyed watching pitch more than Verlander. It was probably Pedro in his prime. But Verlander is the Platonic ideal of a power pitcher -- the golden 80 in the imaginations of every scout.
And when he threw his first pitch of Game 1 of the ALDS, a 95-m.p.h. fastball with sweet corner location, I panicked. How can I write "Justin Verlander is good" over and over for three hours, much less for an entire postseason run???"
He's good alright. But he's not good enough to get away with fastballs right down the middle. That's what Coco Crisp got on a 1-2 count leading off the game, and he drilled it to right, just over the fence by the line:
Crisp has actually hit Verlander well in his career, with a .364 regular-season batting average in 22 at-bats. Not that those numbers really mean anything, but if I were 8-for-22 against Verlander -- or 9-for-23 with a homer -- you'd better believe I'd brag about it.
After the homer, Verlander allowed a walk to Yoenis Cespedes, but struck out Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick to end the inning. The A's are up 1-0, and Verlander is mortal. Barely.