Oakland fans came up with a novel way to troll Justin Verlander during Game 5 of the ALDS: Giant cardboard cutout heads of pitcher’s (rumored) ex-girlfriend.
It’s a good enough idea. Why not try anything to rattle Verlander? He sent the A’s packing in Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS and went into Thursday night’s game with 22 consecutive scoreless innings vs. Oakland in the postseason.
The good idea backfired. Verlander silenced O.co Coliseum with one for the books, and the Tigers advanced to the ACLS with a 3-0 triumph. Verlander’s scoreless postseason innings streak against the Athletics reached 30 innings, a new record.
Verlander took a perfect game into the sixth, losing it on a one-out walk to Josh Reddick. Verlander’s night finished after eight scoreless innings and two hits, along with 10 strikeouts.
Verlander did say that the noisy atmosphere helped him pitch. From CBS Detroit:
"“The environment has a lot to do with it,” Verlander said. “It’s very hostile and it’s a lot of fun, really, to be on the mound. Everybody in the ballpark, 50,000 are rooting against me, and yelling as loud as they can. That’s fun for me. I enjoy that. I enjoy it just as much as being at home and having that atmosphere as well. You thrive off of it.”"
After the game, a media member asked Verlander if he noticed all the Upton-related signage. He admitted he saw it, but offered a smart no comment.
There’s no way to know if Verlander pitched better because of the fans. It was Game 5 of the ALDS. Detroit’s season was at stake. On top of that, he’s a professional athlete, it’s hard to believe he’d need the opposing fans to get fired up to pitch in a game of that magnitude.
Either way, as the old saying goes, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape. [Photo via @AlexEspinozaIV]