Although Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander was on the mound, the Oakland Athletics had to feel pretty confident coming into Game 5 of their ALDS. Not only were they at home, they had Sonny Gray on the hill who had dominated the Tigers in Game 2 and given the A’s 1-11 record in their last twelve elimination games, the odds were bound to change, right?
Yeah – not so much. Verlander dominated the Athletics, throwing six plus innings of no-hit ball en route to pitching the Tigers to the ALCS, who noticed a familiar face in the crowd – former girlfriend Kate Upton.
Oakland fans, hoping to rattle Verlander came equipped with cutouts and photos of Upton and San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who hit three home run’s in one game off the Tigers ace in the 2012 World Series. Verlander did admit to seeing the mocking signs, though, initially suggested he had no comment:
Media: Justin, did you notice the (Kate Upton) photos A’s fans were holding up? Verlander: I did notice that. No comment.
But a bit later, Verlander admitted that the rowdy environment helped him pitch better:
“The environment has a lot to do with it,” Verlander said. “It’s very hostile and it’s a lot of fun, really, to be on the mound. Everybody in the ballpark, 50,000 are rooting against me, and yelling as loud as they can. That’s fun for me. I enjoy that. I enjoy it just as much as being at home and having that atmosphere as well. You thrive off of it.
“At one point they were chanting, ‘Let’s go Oakland,’” Verlander added, “and in my head, every time that they said ‘Oakland,’ I said ‘Tigers.’”