Former Tigers duo reminisces on Detroit run

Detroit Tigers

This story was excerpted from Jason Beck’s Tigers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

The last time the Tigers won back-to-back games with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer on the mound was in September 2014. They did it three times that month, including twice against Kansas City, providing the difference in a fourth consecutive AL Central crown.

If it seems like yesterday, the sight of Verlander and Scherzer pitching at Comerica Park in Mets jerseys might have changed that. But they haven’t forgotten what it was like.

“It was one heck of a run,” Verlander, the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year and 2011 AL MVP, said of his time. “From the Cinderella story of 2006, year in and year out, the team was a juggernaut and going deep in the playoffs. Mr. [Ilitch] was doing anything he could to put an unbelievable product on the field. What a time to not only be a player for the Tigers organization, but a fan. It was just so fun to be part of it.”

“A lot of great memories here,” said Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young winner. “My time, the five years I was here, arguably the best five years in recent history for the Tigers, and to be a part of that run, it was awesome. We had such great teams, great players, and it was where I developed, really came into my own here.”

It made for an interesting dynamic this week. While Verlander and Scherzer were reminiscing, they were trying to beat Detroit. Conversely, the Tigers — none of whom, aside from Miguel Cabrera, are left from that time, though Matthew Boyd pitched alongside Verlander from 2015-17 — had to listen about the good old days.

No one knows better than Eric Haase, who grew up in the area watching those teams. While Verlander won MVP and Cy Young in 2011, Haase was a star at Divine Child High School before being drafted by Cleveland that summer.

“Obviously, pitching in Detroit coming up was just ridiculous,” he recalled. “Verlander’s back and Scherzer’s back, but every guy on that staff won a Cy Young. Where do you draw the line? We were obviously spoiled with a pitching staff, but for those guys to still be in the league, still pitching at the level that they are is insane.”

Haase homered off Scherzer Wednesday to complete a doubleheader sweep. The next day, Riley Greene — who was six when Verlander won Rookie of the Year — homered off him.

“He’s really good at what he does and he’s been doing it for a long time now,” Greene said.

Both pitchers, thankfully, got an ovation from Tigers fans — Verlander before the Tigers beat him and Scherzer after the Tigers chased him.

“I’m always rooting for the best for the organization,” Verlander said. “It seems like they’re bringing in some pieces to start turning things around.”

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