The Tigers were adamant about that. Their 10-1 pasting of the Royals in Friday’s opener of a critical three-game set has a short shelf life.
“There’s no such thing,” Justin Verlander said.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus also threw up a caution flag.
“They’re professionals over there too,” Ausmus said, referring to the Royals’ clubhouse. “They’re coming in tomorrow having forgotten what happened Friday night.”
Torii Hunter didn’t want to see happiness.
“Wipe the smiles off your face,” he said.
Yeah, yeah. For public consumption, the Tigers were all business after this one. But believe there was a level of satisfaction about the way this one unfolded, a one-sided affair from the start.
Ian Kinsler led off the game with a base hit, the first of 19 by the Tigers on the night. By the fifth, every player had at least one hit and seven finished with a multiple-hit game.
Eight Tigers made it into the batter’s box to face Jason Vargas in the first inning. Three scored, and Verlander made his first trip to the mound with a cushion.
Dominant as Verlander can be, there was reason for Royals optimism here. He entered the game 10-5 lifetime against the Royals but had lost three of his last four over two years.
But Verlander was locked in Friday.
“One of the best games he’s thrown all year,” Ausmus said. “It was all business.”
Verlander, 14-12, went 7 1/3 innings, scattered seven hits and struck out four.
He was never in any real danger. In the second, Salvador Perez blooped a one-out single to right, and Eric Hosmer bounced a double over the head of first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
Verlander ran the count to 3-0 on Billy Butler and got him to swing at a fastball that was intended to go down and away but ran in. Butler hit a soft pop-out to right.
The game opened with a playoff feel at a sold out Kauffman Stadium, and the Tigers, the three-time defending division champion, felt right at home.
“That’s what I love about this team,” Verlander said. “We always seem to know the moment and how to capture it. This is a great win. It felt good for me.”
“You can’t replicate playoffs, you just can’t. But you’re talking regular-season big game, this is about as good as it gets.”
But not a statement.