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May 22, 2013 9:35 am

Raising Aces: This Justin


Doug Thorburn

What has to go wrong for Justin Verlander to have a bad day at work?

The stage was set for an epic duel in Arlington last Thursday, pitting perennial CY Young contender Justin Verlander against 2013's frontrunner for the hardware, Yu Darvish of the Rangers. The matchup was a slam-dunk selection for the Game of the Week on this week's episode of TINSTAAPP, and the hype was such that it took thoughtful consideration before co-host/BP colleague Paul Sporer reluctantly chose the “under” when I set the line at 23 strikeouts for the two starters combined.

To say that the game fell short of expectation is a massive understatement. Darvish threw 130 pitches in a game in which he surrendered four runs over the first four frames yet was in no danger of losing. Verlander saw to it that Darvish would get his seventh win of the season, surrendering eight earned runs before he could escape the third inning. The third frame of Thursday's game was the worst of Verlander's career—the Rangers plated seven runners, including two via bases-loaded walks, and the outing ended mercifully after Geovany Soto knocked a 97-mph fastball into the left-field stands for an 8-3 Ranger lead.

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