KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Justin Verlander wanted to give the fans an All-Star show.
The Tigers’ ace certainly did that Tuesday, though not in the way he intended.
The reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner offered a steady series of 100 mph fastballs that National League hitters sent soaring all over Kauffman Stadium. Verlander was hammered for five runs in the first inning as the National League cruised to an 8-0 victory.
“I was able to laugh at it right away,” Verlander said after leaving the game. “Obviously, you don’t want to go out like that, but I had fun. That’s why I don’t try to throw 100 (mph) in the first inning, but this is for the fans. It doesn’t usually work out too well for me.”
The hard-throwing Verlander was coming off two complete games in his last three starts, and he had allowed only seven runs in the first innings of his 18 starts this season.
The NL nearly tallied that much during the biggest first inning of an All-Star game since 2004.
Verlander had allowed five earned runs in a start once all season, and he hadn’t given up five in any inning since April 11, 2010, against the Indians.
“I know this game means something and you don’t want to give up runs, but we’re here for the fans,” Verlander said. “I know the fans don’t want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners.”
Even though some teammates might have preferred Verlander take the start a little more seriously, there were plenty of guys on the AL squad who wanted to see him ramp up the heat.
“Hitting 100 in the first inning? Normally you see the guy throw 93, 94 in the first and then hit 100 in the eighth. We saw him hit 101,” Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. “The funniest part was (Prince) Fielder said to him, ‘Hit 101,’ and the next pitch, he hit 101. Is it that easy?”
Evidently, it’s easier than getting guys out.