Capitals

Verlander once again struggles in World Series

201210241958719127151-p2.jpeg

Verlander once again struggles in World Series

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Justin Verlander pawed at the mound with his feet during warmups, looked flabbergasted when his pitching coach came out for a visit and appeared out of sorts from the start.

Once again, nothing went right for the Detroit Tigers ace in the World Series.

Verlander allowed two of Pablo Sandoval's record-tying three home runs, an RBI single to fellow pitcher Barry Zito and failed to make it past the fourth inning in an 8-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

``I know I was a little bit out of synch,'' said Verlander, who had seven days in between starts. ``Whether that was the layoff or just being out of synch, you can't expect to be perfect every time out.''

With two no-hitters, a Cy Young Award and an MVP to his credit, Verlander has been nearly perfect the past two seasons.

But all that success built on a fastball that hits triple digits on the radar gun and a devastating curveball and changeup hasn't translated on the big stage of the World Series.

Verlander struggled in two starts as a rookie against St. Louis in 2006 and was even worse against the Giants this time, falling to 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA in the Fall Classic.

``This was a big hyped game with Justin, probably a lot of pressure on him,'' manager Jim Leyland said. ``But I don't think it had anything to do with the pressure. His fastball command was not good, he got out of synch, he got on fast forward. He just did not pitch well tonight, it's that simple.''

He retired the first two batters and got ahead 0-2 to Sandoval before Kung Fu Panda drove a 95 mph fastball over the wall in right-center to give the Giants the lead. That was just the sixth homer Verlander had ever allowed on an 0-2 pitch, including in last year's ALCS to Nelson Cruz.

``I tried to elevate there and didn't get it high enough,'' Verlander said. ``Obviously I didn't quite know he was that locked in at that point but he was seeing the ball pretty well today.''

After a 1-2-3 second, Verlander fell off the rails with two outs and nobody on in the third as he struggled to stop his usually dominating fastball from drifting back to the middle of the plate.

``You could tell that his command wasn't there as far as his fastball,'' catcher Alex Avila said. ``From then on you try to make the adjustments for him to find it and still try to manage it and work with what he had. He relies so much on his fastball that when he can't command it it's tough for him.''

The rally started off innocently enough when Angel Pagan fouled off three two-strike pitches before hitting a bouncer that hit directly on third base and changed directions, veering past Miguel Cabrera for a quirky double.

NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro fouled off a pair of 98 mph fastballs with two strikes before lining an RBI single up the middle to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

With a 2-0 count on Sandoval, Jeff Jones came out to the mound and Verlander appeared surprised to see his pitching coach making a visit so early in the game.

``I wasn't mad he was coming out,'' Verlander said. ``It was 2-0. It was not like the wheels were falling off. I'm someone who likes to work off a rhythm. I usually know what I'm doing out there. When things are going wrong, I still know what I'm doing wrong.''

Whatever advice was imparted didn't work as Sandoval drove the next pitch over the left-field fence to make it 4-0, leaving Verlander to mouth ``Wow!'' as he watched it.

``I've seen enough balls off the bat to know when someone gets one,'' Verlander said. ``I definitely didn't think that was a homer off the bat. I turned around and saw Delmon (Young) standing at the wall. That's kind of where the `wow' came from because it was totally unexpected.''

Sandoval became just the fifth player ever to hit two homers in a game off Verlander, who will need to change something before his next start since Sandoval also hit a bases-loaded triple in this year's All-Star game, the only other time they faced each other.

Zito's two-out RBI single in the fourth inning provided a fitting capper to a rough night for Verlander, who had been dominant to get the Tigers to the World Series.

Verlander overpowered the opposition in the first two rounds of the postseason, going 3-0 with an 0.74 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 24 1-3 innings against the big-swinging Oakland Athletics and the New York Yankees.

While those teams were strikeout prone, the Giants built their success on putting the ball into play. San Francisco combined that skill with Sandoval's longballs to lead to Verlander's shortest outing since also lasting four innings in Game 1 of the ALCS against Texas last year.

Quick Links

Lumberjack Caps enjoy off day...throwing axes

axethrowing.png
@ForgedAxeWhis

Lumberjack Caps enjoy off day...throwing axes

The reigning Stanley Cup champions seemingly have boat loads of team fun while on the road. 

A day after cruising past the Vancouver Canucks (5-2, win) at their place, the team enjoyed a little friendly competition inside an...axe throwing arena. 

Forged Axe Throwing is an indoor facility in the countryside of Whistler, British Columbia. 

Dressed as lumberjacks, the Caps dove right into their team-building activity. 

Andre Burakovsky and Nicklas Backstrom went head-to-head for Swedish bragging rights. 

To no one's surprise, Alex Ovechkin is as much of a goal-scorer as he is an axe-thrower. 

But it was T.J. Oshie who walked away with the Forged Axe Throwing title on this day. 

Needless to say, Tuesday wasn't your average off day for a National Hockey League team. But as reigning champs, everyday is atypical. 

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards and Warriors have an eventful history for two teams that don't play each other often

wizwarriors.png
USA Today Sports

Wizards and Warriors have an eventful history for two teams that don't play each other often

For two teams that only play each other twice a season and have no regional ties, the Wizards and Warriors have an underrated history between them. There have been thrilling games, memorable moments and a good deal of bad blood between the players.

As far as game results, Golden State has held the upper hand. That sounds about right, given the Warriors have won three of the last four championships. Since John Wall entered the league, the Warriors are 13-2 against Washington.

Before the Wizards take on the Warriors in the Bay Area on Wednesday night (10 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), take a look back at some of the most consequential games between the teams...

March 23, 2013 - Klay vs. John

A lot of people forget about this one. Back in March of 2013, long before the Warriors became a dynasty, Wall was ejected for a confrontation with Klay Thompson at Oracle Arena.

While they were each chasing a loose ball, Thompson shoved Wall to the ground with his shoulder and Wall took offense. Before the ball was inbounded for the next play, Wall went up to Thompson and confronted him with a healthy amount of trash-talk.

The refs saw it and sent Wall to the showers. The Wizards ended up losing the game.

Feb. 28, 2017 - Durant gets hurt in his return to D.C.

Kevin Durant made the surprising decision to join the Warriors in the summer of 2016 and few fanbases were more shocked than those of the Wizards, who had long seen their franchise as a logical landing spot for the hometown star. Durant didn't make his return to Washington with his new team until February of that season, and his homecoming didn't last long.

Just 1:33 into his night, Durant suffered a knee injury when teammate Zaza Pachulia fell into him in a game against the Wizards. The injury initially appeared to be very serious, though Durant was able to return just over a month later.

One of the worst parts about it all was that Pachulia clearly flopped unnecessarily on the play. Another reason to hate flopping.

April 2, 2017 - Jennings vs. JaVale

Neither of these guys are still on the teams at play, but this was a good one. Late in the 2016-17 season, the Wizards were getting blown out by the Warriors when center JaVale McGee decided to shoot a three from the corner.

Wizards guard Brandon Jennings thought that crossed the line of good sportsmanship. Golden State was up big and there is an unwritten rule in basketball not to run up the score at the very end.

So, Jennings pushed McGee to the ground and afterwards both had a series of entertaining quotes about the matter. A league-wide debate about unwritten rules also broke out in the ensuing days.

Among the things said in the aftermath, Jennings pointed out how he could have done more.

"Thank God he didn't go to the rack," Jennings said. "It probably would have been worse for him... I'm old school. Like I said, he better be glad he shot that three and didn't go to the rack."

Oct. 27, 2018 - Draymond vs. Brad

Wizards fans should remember this well because it was the most recent spat between the teams. On Oct. 27 of last year, Bradley Beal and Draymond Green were both ejected for a fight at Oracle. It started after a missed shot with the Wizards on offense as both players were jockeying for position to grab the rebound.

They got tangled and ended up falling out of bounds into the stands in a tussle. Many players joined in on the fun.

Amazingly, neither Beal or Green were suspended. Others weren't as lucky, including Markieff Morris and Carrick Felix who stepped onto the court when they were supposed to remain on the bench. 

None of this is to suggest the Wizards and Warriors will be at each other's throats on Wednesday night, but history suggests it should be an entertaining game.

 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: