Here is an interesting stat: Eight of the players in the Orioles' starting lineup today have combined for just one career homer off Justin Verlander in 85 at-bats. But the other player in the lineup today has seven career homers in 49 at-bats against the Detroit right-hander.
Jim Thome is the guy with all the homers. He is 12-for-49 in his career vs. Verlander for a modest .245 batting average. But he has one double and those seven homers off Verlander to go along with 11 RBIs and career OPS of 1.107 against him.
"Verlander is one of the best," Thome said. "I don't know if you ever look forward to facing him, but I think the battle of just going out and knowing he's one of the best pitchers in baseball, absolutely. The challenge of seeing where you're at and, obviously, he's had a remarkable career. Anytime you face him you better be on your A game for sure."
Thome said he could not pinpoint the reason for his big homer output against the 2011 American League Cy Young winner and Most Valuable Player.
"You go out and play the game. Some days you will get some hits and that is just part of the game," Thome said. "He's one of the best. He's actually a good guy who is good for the game."
Thome's seven homers off Verlander rank third on his personal homers' list behind the nine he hit off Rick Reed and the eighth he has off Roger Clemens.
Verlander's seven homers allowed to Thome is the most hit off him by any one player.
Verlander has held Adam Jones to one hit in 16 career at-bats, Nick Markakis is 7-for-30 against him, J.J. Hardy is 3-for-20 and Matt Wieters is 2-for-12.
Last year, Verlander went 1-0 with an ERA of 4.80 against the Orioles. In his career, over nine starts, he is 6-0 with a 3.05 ERA and .216 batting average allowed against Baltimore.
The last time the Orioles faced him, last September 24 on the road, they beat the Tigers but did not pin that loss on Verlander. Matt Angle led off that game with a homer and the Orioles got five runs and eight hits off Verlander over seven innings. Verlander entered that game at 24-5 with an ERA of 2.29 and was looking to become baseball's first 25-game winner since Bob Welch of Oakland won 27 in 1990. He did not get that milestone win against the Orioles that afternoon.
Here is the game story from that contest.
Verlander enters today's start with a record of 9-5 and a 2.58 ERA that ranks fourth in the AL. He is fifth in strikeouts. The stat sheet says he is more hittable in road games, where he is 5-3 with an ERA of 3.42 over 10 starts.
How will the O's do today against Verlander?
Not much so far: Through four and a half innings this afternoon, the Orioles trail Verlander and the Tigers 2-0. They have just two hits and both are by Thome. He singled in the first and doubled to right in the third. The Orioles are 0-for-2 today with runners in scoring position, making them 3-for-31 in recent games in that stat. Verlander has walked one and fanned four so far.