DETROIT -- Things might be a little awkward between Alex Avila and Justin Verlander.
The two former teammates faced off on Wednesday afternoon for only the second time ever and Avila didn’t treat the Tigers’ ace too kindly.
Avila, who caught Verlander for six seasons, ripped a 435-foot solo homer to dead center in the fourth inning, but the White Sox still lost to the Detroit Tigers 3-2.
Avila is now 2-for-5 with a walk in two games against Verlander. They also faced each other on June 5.
“I know I’m going to be hearing about it,” Verlander told Detroit reporters. “I think I’m going to ask him back for one of the watches I’ve gifted him. It’s only fair, I think.”
Avila and Verlander have shared a ton of memories over the years.
Avila was Verlander’s primary catcher from 2010-2015. He caught him 116 times, including in 33 of 34 starts when Verlander won his only Cy Young Award and was named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. Verlander had a 3.10 ERA with Avila behind the plate, including a 2.35 in 2011.
Avila hit against Verlander three times on Wednesday, striking out twice. He thought his old teammate looked extremely sharp as Verlander held the White Sox to two runs and three hits in seven innings. Verlander struck out nine.
“He has pitched great all year, really exposing hitters’ weaknesses with that mid-90s fastball, staying at the top of the zone with that,” Avila said. “His slider-cutter worked well for him. He’s pitching great. It’s tough to get runs off him.”
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Avila was excited to not only face Verlander, but also to catch Chris Sale. He said White Sox manager Robin Ventura told him he’d catch Wednesday’s game a few days earlier and he anticipated the game.
Verlander said he thinks the catcher has the advantage in these types of meetings.
“Alex having caught me a lot, cheated a little bit to that first pitch heater in, and that’s fine,” Verlander said. “A lot of guys do that and I just need to execute it a little better.
“It’s like he’s faced 1,000 times, so you can’t get upset because it’s an ex-teammate.”
Avila said it “felt great” to homer off Verlander, but he hadn’t yet talked to him or texted.
“I’m sure we’ll talk about it at some point,” Avila said.
Verlander figures this won’t be the only time the two square off. If Avila wants to keep hitting homers, he might think about leaving personal items at home.
“I think I’ve gave him two or three (watches),” Verlander said. “I’ll start with the least expensive one and work my way up because we face each other a lot.”