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Astros & Vervars dominated the tigers, but the feeling in Comerica Park is very different from that of the home team played [1
9659006] It's time to move on. And in a sense many of you have.

Judging by the number of people in the stands Wednesday night at Comerica Park. Judging by the warm yet cautious response to the return of the best pitcher this city has seen in the past 20 years.

When Justin Verlander first appeared in Detroit last fall as Houston Astro, the former Cy Young winner was hailed as a kind of winning hero.

And while Verlander heard some greetings on Wednesday night, the whole affair – and sounded – felt like a regular May match between a visiting team with a World Series in mind and a home side facing the future.

The distant future. [19455917] [ Sign up for our free Detroit Tigers newsletter! ]

<img itemprop = "url" src = "https: //www.gannett-cdn. com / authoring / 2019/05/16 / PDTF / df1b93be-effc-42a4-a7b6-c7ad99c2aab9-Tigers_051519_kd5208.jpg? width = 540 & height = & fit = bounds & auto = webp "alt =" Justin Verlander joins the Comerica during the first inning Wednesday Park against the Tigers. [19659012] Justin Verlander faces the Tigers on the first inning Wednesday in Comerica Park. [Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press]

Yes, it was beautiful, Verlander back on the hill in Comerica Park, even in a largely empty stadium.

Watching him mop up the dirt with his lump from the hill, throwing up this effortless heat and mixing the speed gaps, especially the 80-mile track. Schieber, who descends through the corner of the strike zone to see a Hall of Famer at work.

So F ans surfaced. Or most anyway. Not that they had much to cheer in the 1-5 defeat of the Tigers.

Justin Verlander kept the tigers to 2 goals in 7 innings. [Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press]

If anything, it reminded Verlanders presence of what they no longer have and what kind of baseball town it used to be.

"It's kind of sad," said Verlander. "Most of my memories here … this ballpark was full. The fans were loud. Obviously a little different now. But that comes with winning. Put a winning product on the field and the fans will appear. That's proven again and again. "

Justin Verlander explains why Tiger lost twice in the World Series.

Verlander warn & # 39; I aim for the organization that helped him become a star. He admitted that it's hard to stay good forever. This time does not slow for anyone.

"Nothing against these guys," he said. "I know they grind and play the best baseball they can."

He is not mistaken. These tigers grind. They just do not have the talent. And the only star they still have fades.

Unlike Verlander, Miguel Cabrera has not experienced its mid-30s renaissance. He does not seem to stay healthy – he was scratched on Tuesday due to a knee problem. He fights for another against history and biology.

Oversized lazybones rarely age well. And with all the gifts of Cabrera – the hands, the feet, the balance, the eyes – his greatness rested on giving these sublime talents a nimble and towering frame.

Well, this frame has not lasted. Remarkably, Verlander has

But then that should not be so surprising. Only a few jugs were so effortlessly three-digit.

Sure, he was born with a golden arm. But his strength always came from his legs. Still, it made him great that he could mix all those pitches.

That was obvious against the tigers. He changed the speed. Uncorked the curve. Thrown in the slide. And opened the throttle when needed.

[ Tigers’ Casey Mize is now top-ranked pitching prospect in MLB ]

It was all so easy. How he always made it look when he wore the Old English D.

And aside from a high inside fastball that JaCoby Jones reached out to hit in the left field seats, Verlander made only a few mistakes – if you can call that a mistake.

"Tipping your cap," he said about Jones's 436-foot shot.

At age 36, Verlander is near the top of the American league most important statistical categories. He throws almost never before.

He threw 101 pitches – 71 for strikes – and gave up a run with two hits over seven innings. After he had finished and gone for the last time to the shelter, he heard a few cheers.

Easy applause.

Nevertheless, it warmed his soul.

"Special," he said.

From the people who cheered him on while warming up in the bullpen, to the people who recognized him in the first inning, he noticed it. He could not change it. Because despite all his ability to lock in and out of the world, this will always be his first baseball house.

Justin Verlander in the shelter at the seventh inning at Comerica Park on Wednesday. (Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

"Definitely a bit nerve wracking," he said of the throwing here. "And exciting at the same time. The fans were fantastic, except for this one guy in the first inning, who shouted, "They suck." I swear to God, I heard this guy. I should probably concentrate a bit more.

As always, he was too harsh with himself. And when he spoke to the media in front of his locker in the visitor's clubhouse, one could hear the concern in his voice.

He was also warm-hearted and thoughtful, as if the crowd was heading for him and typing on their collective cap, so to speak.

Yes, the night was melancholy. Verlander was right about that.

And though his return – for the second time – did not evoke the vivid love that existed last fall, that should come as no surprise.

It's time to move on. The memory of the era is blurred.

This was easy to see on Wednesday when two of the biggest franchise players arrived at Comerica Park. One wore a wrap on his knee. The other wears the uniform of a team whose home is far away.

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Contact Shawn Windsor: 313-222-6487 or swindsor@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @shawnwindsor .