Justin Verlander rocked by NL hitters in first All-Star Game start
Was Kate Upton on his mind? Something knocked Justin Verlander off his game in his first career All-Star Game start. Maybe it was the vision...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Was Kate Upton on his mind?
Something knocked Justin Verlander off his game in his first career All-Star Game start. Maybe it was the vision of Upton, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model rumored to be dating him.
At least the Tigers would hope for such a distraction and not something mechanical after Verlander, Detroit's ace, was tagged for five runs in the top of first inning as the National League went on to an 8-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium.
Verlander, who took the loss, was making his fifth All-Star Game appearance. The game was pretty much decided a few moments after it started.
Pablo Sandoval hit the first bases-loaded triple in All-Star history off Verlander, who couldn't control his 100 mph heat.
Melky Cabrera singled and scored the first run, then hit a two-run homer against Matt Harrison in a three-run fourth.
"I don't get many triples," said the slow-footed Sandoval, known as Kung Fu Panda. "We had some fun with that in the dugout."
In games that count, Verlander hasn't allowed five runs in an inning since April 2010, according to STATS LLC. He became the first All-Star to give up a five-spot since Houston's Roger Clemens in front of his hometown fans in 2004.
"It was pretty difficult for me to get the ball down today," said Verlander, who admitted he approached this differently than a regular-season start.
At one point during the first inning, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux made his way to the mound — a rarity any time Verlander starts.
"I knew why he was coming out, to tell me to slow down," Verlander said. "Before he hit the mound, I was like, 'Hey, I can't slow down now.' "
• Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players association, confirmed that, starting next season, teams will no longer play six games against the same interleague opponent every year.
Weiner said that traditional rivals (Yankees-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, Dodgers-Angels, and so on) would play a single three-game series each season, or home-and-home series of two games each. Explaining the reason for the reduction, Weiner cited the Mets, the only team in the National League that has had to play six games each year against the Yankees, who are traditionally strong.
"The reduction of the number of traditional rivalry games was a function of fairness," he said. "Whether we end up at three or four is a function of mechanics."
The Houston Astros are moving to the AL West next season, so each division can have five teams. Weiner said every team would play six interleague series per year — five against a corresponding division in the other league, plus one against a traditional rival.
• Baseball has not awarded an All-Star Game beyond next season's, which will take place at Citi Field in New York. But the most logical candidate for 2014, by far, is Target Field in Minnesota. Every other AL team besides the Tampa Bay Rays has hosted the game since the Twins last did, in 1985.
• Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones, who has announced his intention to retire after the season, got a standing ovation from the crowd at Kauffman Stadium, where he had never played in his 19 seasons.
Jones entered as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning and grounded a single past second baseman Ian Kinsler to another appreciative roar.