|Justin Verlander is a bit of a different pitcher thus far in Game 3. (US Presswire)|
DETROIT -- After becoming just the fifth pitcher in history to strike out 11 or more batters twice in the same postseason, Justin Verlander is at it again in Game 3.
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Well, he's "at it again" in terms of keeping runs off the board and keeping runners off the bases (he was perfect through 3 1/3), but, uncharacteristically, he's not missing bats. Through 4.0 innings, Verlander has just two Ks. That wouldn't be noteworthy for almost any other pitcher, but this is Verlander, the best pitcher on the planet.
His low for the season in strikeouts is three, which he did twice: on June 19 against the Cardinals and on Sept. 8 against the Angels. He could be headed for such a mark Tuesday.
Stated another way, he's struck out just 15.4 percent of the batters he's faced. During the regular season he whiffed 25 percent of opposing hitters, which ranked near the top of the league. With that said, Verlander has induced some weak contact so far: no fair line drives, three ground-outs and a pair of pop-ups to catcher Alex Avila. Of course, the Tigers hardly care about aesthetics right now -- they just want outs. And Verlander is giving them outs.
In the third inning, Verlander finally hit 97 on the gun, so perhaps the cold temps in Detroit and the mounting innings have rendered him something less than his usual dominant self. There's a Yankees zero on the scoreboard, though, which is ultimately the point.