If you and Justin Verlander are walking side-by-side down the street, he's going to try to be faster than you.
He's a competitor. And one of the best competitors we've ever seen.
That's why—if given the opportunity—Verlander will pitch with a vengeance and earn a crucial win in Game 5 of the World Series.
Verlander had a night to forget in Game 1 on Wednesday, giving up five earned runs on six hits—including two home runs—with four strikeouts and a walk in just four innings.
The Tigers' 29-year-old ace was coming off eight days' rest, but won't use that as an excuse as to why he struggled.
And he won't dwell on it, either.
Verlander has only lost back-to-back starts twice this season, and hasn't done so since late July. He figures out what went wrong the start before and he fixes it.
The same thing happened to Verlander in his rookie year, during the 2006 World Series when he took the mound after extended rest. In Game 1 of the 2006 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Verlander came off of nine days' rest and badly struggled, giving up six earned runs on six hits in five innings.
His next outing—despite suffering a loss—he only gave up one earned run in six innings.
He has a very unique ability to put bad starts behind him and bounce back strong.
One of the most admirable things about Verlander's performance on Wednesday was his ability to laugh at himself and brush it off.
It was clear on the Fox television broadcast, when pitching coach Jeff Jones came out to talk to Verlander in the bottom of the third, that Verlander was able to crack a smile and get a laugh.
According to Matthew Mowery of the Oakland Press, Verlander provoked the humorous conversation with a little sarcasm.
"I told Jeff when he got out there, ‘All you did was get the crowd really into it right now,’" Verlander told reporters after the game.
Before fielding postgame questions, Verlander had a little fun with the media, as well.
According to Mowery, the Tigers' ace was nowhere to be found at his locker after the game. Not because he didn't want to talk, but instead because he knew the situation, and wanted to make the best of it.
Mob scene around Verlander's locker, easily 50 people. JV stands up on a couch 20 feet away, behind mob: "You guys waiting for something?"
The stats speak for themselves when talking about Verlander and his mostly immortal body of work.
But Verlander's softer side also leads me to believe that he's going to bounce back. He's not getting too down on himself after one bad start.
The Tigers are in a one-game hole, and yes, they're in trouble.
But it's a long series.
And Verlander will be just fine.
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