Justin Verlander was rocked early and often while starting Tuesday's All-Star game, giving up five runs off four hits and two walks. His unexpected implosion wasn't the sole reason the American League lost -- the lineup failed to score a single run, to state the obvious -- but it certainly set the tone for disappointment.
So, what happened? Why did one of the game's most consistent pitchers suddenly fall to pieces? As he explained after the game, he's not used to exerting maximum effort from the opening pitch.
"That's why I don't try to throw 100 (mph) in the first inning, but this is for the fans," he said. "It doesn't usually work out too well for me.''
Verlander usually opens games throwing in the low to mid-90s before dialing up his velocity, often into the triple-digits, as the game progresses. But letting loose early disrupted his rhythm, and he was never able to get into a groove.
Even though the loss gives the National League home-field advantage in the World Series, Verlander doesn't regret trying to put on a show.
"I know this game means something and you don't want to give up runs, but we're here for the fans," he said. "I know the fans don't want to see me throw 90 and try to hit the corners."
The fans weren't the only ones in awe. Even though Verlander didn't get the results he wanted, his American League teammates were still impressed.
"Hitting 100 in the first inning? Normally you see the guy throw 93, 94 in the first and then hit 100 in the eighth. We saw him hit 101," Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said. "The funniest part was [Prince] Fielder said to him, `Hit 101' and the next pitch he hit 101. Is it that easy?"