6/9 vs. DET
Reds lineup vs. Tigers
*Tigers ace Justin Verlander is pitching for the first time at GABP. He has lost his last three starts, something that hasn’t happened since he lost four straight from Aug. 27-Sept. 20, 2008. Verlander also leads the AL with 86 strikeouts.
*Verlander is also 16-2 lifetime in Interleague Play. Dusty Baker, who has faced some nasty pitchers in his playing days, was asked about what he’d tell his hitters about handling Verlander, the 2011 AL MVP.
“No. 1, you have to get on that fastball and try to let him get too far ahead of you,” Baker said. “If he gets ahead of you, he’s got some weapons to put you away with. Hopefully we get to him early before the bad sightlines come.”
Baker recalled that playing in late afternoon-early evening can also be tough.
“Here, have of [the field] is in the shade and half is in the sun,” he said. “Our guys and everybody complains that they really can’t see. You see how Leake and Latos and everybody is pitching up until about the fourth inning. Then in the fourth inning, it’s , ‘boys we can see now.’ The ball looks white instead of gray. Twilight is a tough time for anything. It’s tough to see the stitches off the ball. I liked playing at night because the lights would reflect off of the white part, therefore illuminating the seams and you could pick up the stitches.
“When everything looks the same, your swinging at movement instead of the ball. We have to get him early before he gets locked in. I remember facing J.R. [Richard] and [Tom] Seaver and Nolan Ryan and these guys at this time. It was very, very difficult. I remember one time in a twilight doubleheader, Seaver threw the ball. I heard it hit the catcher’s glove but I didn’t see it.
“When I saw the schedule, you think about this guy [Verlander] last week. You think about him last night. You think about him on the way to the ballpark. This is like playoff-world series challenge. Rarely do I ever think about playing but if I was young enough, I’d like the challenge of today. You always want to match yourself against the best even if you are not the best. But you can’t look at him with too much awe. You can respect him but don’t think he’s better than you.”