Verlander got his revenge, and a 5-4 victory.
The Tigers’ ace rebounded to strike out Dunn three consecutive times on off-speed pitches. Against Konerko, one of the best fastball hitters in the game, Verlander set down the challenge and won.
In the eighth inning with a runner on base, the Konerko-Verlander showdown was on.
Verlander not only struck out Konerko on a 100 mph pitch (his 120th pitch of the night), Konerko faced a fastball sequence of 98, 99, 98 and 100 mph.
“We know we were gonna face the best pitcher, I’m not gonna say in baseball because I don’t pay attention to the National League, but American League I don’t see anybody better than that guy,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Late in the game when you throw 100 on your 120th pitch, you have to tip your hat to it. He’s a fighter. That team knows when he’s on the mound, he’s all business and that’s what makes him very special.”
Asked if he was amazed Verlander had that much left in the tank, Konerko shrugged.
“He throws hard; I’m not amazed,” Konerko said. “I’ve seen him do it before. You know it’s there.”
Verlander hung his head when Konerko hit his sixth-inning home run, but regained his composure and led his team to a big division victory that put the White Sox 4½ games back in the standings.
“He’s as good as there is, if not ever, and I mean that,” Dunn said. “He’s as good as it gets. It’s not always the fastball that gets you. He probably has the best fastball in baseball, one of the best changeups, the best curveball, the best slider. He’s good.”