|Returning to Detroit brings pang of regret, Verlander says|
Returning to Detroit brings pang of regret, Verlander says
Justin Verlander accepted a trade to the Houston Astros two seasons ago and earned a World Series ring.
The former American League Cy Young winner and Most Valuable player says he gets chills returning to Detroit's Comerica Park, where he pitched a majority of his career.
The seven-time All-Star will face his former team once again on Wednesday night in the finale of a three-game series between the Astros and Tigers. Houston will be shooting for its eight consecutive win after outscoring Detroit 19-5 in the first two games of the series.
"Any time I'm going to come back here, no matter how long it's been or how many times, it will be a pretty nerve-wracking experience," Verlander told the Detroit News and other media outlets. "I spent so much time here and have so many memories, it has such a special place in my heart."
Verlander racked up a Most Valuable Player award, a Cy Young, a Rookie of the Year honor and two no-hitters during his Tigers career. A world championship eluded him until he was dealt to Houston, where he has continued to excel.
Verlander told the Detroit News that he "felt bad" for former Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, who "put his heart and soul into this organization, did everything he possibly could to allow us to win a championship."
Ilitch, who bought the Tigers in 1992, died in February 2017. The owner "came close a couple times. It's probably one of my biggest regrets," Verlander said.
There's nothing regrettable about the way Verlander has pitched this year. The 36-year-old right-hander has been as dominant as ever, going 6-1 record with a 2.51 ERA.
He's pitched twice against Detroit, going 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA. In his lone start at Comerica in an Astros uniform, he held the Tigers to two runs on six hits in seven innings while racking up 10 strikeouts last September.
Verlander will be opposed by rookie left-hander Gregory Soto (0-1, 15.75), who was recalled from Double-A Erie after Tuesday's game. Ryan Carpenter, who surrendered eight runs (seven earned) in four innings in Detroit's 11-4 loss, was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Soto made his major league debut in the second game of a doubleheader in Minnesota on Saturday. He allowed seven runs on nine hits in four innings. Soto was 0-1 with a 2.03 ERA in three starts with the SeaWolves.
Another left-hander, Nick Ramirez, made his major league debut in the same game and he'll play a relief role on Wednesday. Ramirez gave up one run on six hits in four innings on Saturday.
"We're going to try not to put too much work on both of them," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hopefully, we can get some big innings out of them. Whatever (Soto) can get us, that's what we're going to take."
The Tigers have been forced to scramble due to injuries to their starting staff.
"We just have to get through the ballgame and hopefully they'll give us a chance," Gardenhire said. "That's a good hitting team over there."
Houston has rocked Detroit's staff for seven homers during the first two games. Aledmys Diaz has gone deep in both games, and George Springer hit his AL-high 16th on Tuesday, the first inside-the-park homer of his career. Springer hit 22 home runs in 140 games last season.
--Field Level Media