Today's Memorial Day contest between the Tigers and the Angels was as straight up pitching duel, no two ways about it. It was Justive Verlander against Jhoulys Chacin, and they turned the Big A into a gladiator's pit; some sort of sunburned Thunderdome, where two pitchers would enter, one would leave (with the WIN).
The unlikely Chacin has proven his mettle in an Angels uniform already, but tonight he took it to an unprecedented level. He went all the way to the end of a game, along the way collecting strikeout after strikeout, four perfect innings, no walks, and no runs. He was on fire, looking like an absolute gem that Billy Eppler may have walked out from right under the Braves' organizational nose.
His counterpart was veteran Justin Verlander, who went to the fountain of youth tonight and found his old, dominant self. Or maybe he was just playing the Angels, and that helped? Either way, he looked good and matched Chacin's dominant outing with one of his own. Each pitcher was doing so well, the two starters took dueling perfect games into the fifth inning, and they combined to get 27 outs in a row (3 away from MLB record of 30). Both arms were lights out tonight, and the offense for BOTH teams could only scrape together a few measly hits here and there.
That is, until the eighth inning, when Verlander became the first guy to flinch. Going well over the 100 pitch mark, Verlander started the eighth by giving a single to Johnny Giavotella., followed by a Rafael Ortega single. Johnny G was then driven home, by a Cliff Pennington hit, and the first blow was struck. Things only got worse for Verlander when a Gregorio Petit hit and bad throw would let two come across, and the Angels had a commanding 3-0 lead.
That would be the end of Verlander's night, but the Angels weren't done piling on. Singles from Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron would also drive in runs, driving the score up to 5-0 and practically wrapping up the win with a nice little bow. Chacin would actually head out for the ninth, with 106 pitches already under his belt. He'd give up a double right away, and then a few batters later, a sac fly would score on him and break up his shut out. As soon as they got that sign of life, a Chacin strikeout was the final out of the evening and the Tigers were officially vanquished.
What a night by Chacin: a complete game, with only four hits, one run, one walk and TEN strikeouts. He was lights out, exactly what you want to see from an Angels starter right now, no matter how unlikely the source is. Good pitching is good pitching. Tip of the cap to Chacin...this was a fun one.