Justin Verlander returns to his All-Star form

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Justin Verlander returns to his All-Star form

From Comcast SportsNet
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Justin Verlander put on a show at the All-Star game, with horrific results. Against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, the reigning Cy Young Award winner staged a pitching clinic that ended quite nicely for the right-hander and the Detroit Tigers. Verlander allowed three hits in eight innings and the Tigers cruised to 4-0 victory, their seventh win in eight games. In his first appearance since yielding five runs in one inning for the AL in an 8-0 loss Tuesday night, Verlander (10-5) struck out eight and walked two. He retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced before leaving after 117 pitches. "He was just in total command and I knew he would be, particularly after the All-Star game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "The fans wanted to see him throw it 100 (mph) and he threw it a 100. Today he pitched the way he can pitch and has been pitching. ... Today the horse did what the horses do." Verlander allowed only two runners past first base. The only hits against him were a single by Jim Thome in the first inning, a double by Thome in the third and single by Mark Reynolds in the seventh. It was the Anti-All-Star game for Detroit's ace, who couldn't wait to get back on the mound after the debacle in Kansas City. "Yes, but at the same time, I had to tell myself that that's not the kind of pitcher that I am," Verlander said. "Everybody that has watched me or followed the Tigers or myself knows that that's not me. That's not the way I normally pitch so it's easy to turn the page." It was Verlander's 117th win for Detroit, tied with Denny McLain for 13th on the team career list. He improved to 7-0 in 10 lifetime starts against the Orioles, including 5-0 at Camden Yards. "When he had some struggles in the All-Star game I wasn't too excited about it," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "I kind of had an idea he was going to be on top of his game today." Jose Valverde worked the ninth to complete the four-hitter. Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera homered for the Tigers, who took two of three from the Orioles. Making his second start and appearance in the majors, Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez (1-1) gave up three runs, six hits and five walks over 5 2-3 innings. In his first start, the right-hander allowed just one run in seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels. In this one, the rookie fell behind 1-0 after throwing two pitches. "I kept the team in the game. That's what I'm trying to do," Gonzalez said. "I felt good. Good pitches. They got hit. That's just baseball." Thome had three hits for the Orioles, who have lost 10 of 14. Second baseman Robert Andino left in the sixth inning after hurting his left shoulder diving for a single. X-rays were negative, and he will receive an MRI on Monday. Baltimore was under three runs for the 14th time in 25 games. Wilson Betemit struck out three times and J.J. Hardy failed to hit the ball out of the infield in four at-bats to extend his hitting slump to 4 for 55 (.073). Blame it on Verlander. "After the All-Star game, I thought we were going to have a real good shot of lighting him up, but I think he was just setting us up," left fielder Chris Davis deadpanned. "He's good. He won MVP last year for a reason. I felt like at times that he was just toying with us." Jackson opened the game with a drive into the center-field seats, his third leadoff homer of the season and seventh of his career. He also extended his run-scoring streak to 12 games, most by a Detroit player since Rocky Colavito scored in 12 straight in 1961. The Tigers added a second-inning run when Brennan Boesch doubled and scored on a single by Jhonny Peralta. Detroit made it 3-0 in the sixth. Prince Fielder walked, took second on a single by Boesch and scored on a single by Alex Avila. Orioles right-hander Steve Johnson, the son of former Baltimore pitcher Dave Johnson, made his major league debut in the eighth. He escaped that inning after walking the first two batters, but gave up Cabrera's 20th home run in the ninth. Johnson was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game and optioned back afterward to make room for Chris Tillman, who will start for the Orioles in Minnesota on Monday night. NOTES: Orioles RHP Jason Hammel will undergo surgery on his right knee to remove loose cartilage. He is expected to miss at least a month. He was placed on the 15-day DL. ... Detroit's Jim Leyland managed in his 3,264th game, 15th-most in major league history. ... Baltimore's Mark Reynolds ended a 0-for-17 drought with a seventh-inning single.

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5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk

5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk

The Capitals acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk on Monday to bolster the blue line for the team's quest for the Stanley Cup. Here's what you need to know about the newest Cap.

1. Shattenkirk is a right-shooting defenseman

This is why they got him. The Capitals are the best team in the NHL with only one notable weakness: Right-shot defensemen. The team had only two in Matt Niskanen and John Carlson. Prospect Madison Bowey likely would have served as depth for the playoffs, but an injury to his ankle meant Bowey would not get a chance to gain any NHL experience in the latter half of the season, leaving the cupboard completely bare. MacLellan added depth defenseman Tom Gilbert from Los Angeles, but he swung for the fences with Shattenkirk, giving the team three right-handed defensemen to balance out the team’s defensive pairs.

RELATED: Depth and championship mindset prompted Shattenkirk trade

2. Shattenkirk will almost certainly be a rental

It was initially surprising to hear Shattenkirk was on the market considering the St. Louis Blues will likely make the playoffs this year. On the final year of his contract, however, the Blues decided not to let him walk away for nothing and made it known he was available. But Washington was not the first team to come calling. According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Blues had a trade in place with another team, but Shattenkirk nixed the deal by refusing a seven-year, $42 million contract extension. For you non-math majors out there, that’s an average annual value of $6 million. It certainly looks like Shattenkirk is dead set on maxing his value on the open market as a free agent this summer. Considering that the Caps likely won’t have the money to re-sign both Karl Alzner and T.J. Oshie this offseason, they won’t suddenly have the money to re-sign a player who turned his nose at a contract that paid him $6 million per year.​

3. This is the second time in his career that Shattenkirk was traded midseason

Worried about how Shattenkirk will mesh with the Caps? This isn’t the first time he has had to adjust to a new team on the fly. Shattenkirk was traded to St. Louis by the Colorado Avalanche in 2011, his rookie year. In his first game with the Blues, he tallied an assist. He would go on to record 17 points in 26 games with St. Louis that season.

4. The Capitals weren’t the only team interested in Shattenkirk

As referenced above, the Blues had a deal in place with another team weeks before Monday's deal got done. That team is believed to be the Tampa Bay Lightning. But there were also some Metropolitan contenders kicking the tires on the veteran defenseman. Steve Zipay of Newsday reported the New York Rangers were interested as were the Pittsburg Penguins. In the end, however, the high price it took to acquire Shattenkirk kept both the Rangers and the Penguins out of the running. MacLellan dismissed the idea that the trade had anything to do with blocking Shattenkirk from the competition in a conference call with the media on Tuesday, but that doesn’t change the fact that Shattenkirk coming to Washington means he’s not going to New York or Pittsburgh.

5. Shattenkirk is just one of four defensemen to rank in the top-10 in goals, assists and points this season

We all know what Shattenkirk cost, but what will he add? Shattenkirk is a strong player on both ends of the ice. He’s not afraid to be physical or even drop the gloves on occasion. Worried about an inconsistent Caps’ power play? Shattenkirk is an exceptional power play defenseman who can certainly bolster Washington’s attack on the man advantage. His offensive production is solid with 11 goals (5th among all NHL defensemen), 31 assists (7th among NHL defenseman) and 42 points (tied for 4th among NHL defensemen).

MORE CAPITALS: CAPITALS CALL UP TWO FORWARDS TO MAKE UP FOR ZACH SANFORD

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Concern about depth, championship mindset prompted the trade for Shattenkirk

Concern about depth, championship mindset prompted the trade for Shattenkirk

NEW YORK—Although Matt Niskanen is expected to return Tuesday night against the Rangers, his absence the past two games made one thing abundantly clear to Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan: he needed bolster the blue line in the event a key defenseman gets hurt in the playoffs.

So, on Monday night, MacLellan made a bold move, acquiring former All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from the Blues.

“We’ve always talked about defensive depth,” MacLellan said on a conference call with reporters. “If a top-4 guy goes down, what are we going to do? I think that played a big part in the decision. The timing of Nisky’s injury where he missed two games maybe created the urgency to pursue it more aggressively.”

MacLellan added: “This gives us insurance if something like that happens where one of our top guys misses a few games.”   

The Blues’ asking price, according to MacLellan, was “in line” with the cost for similar top tier rentals in recent years. As part of the deal, the Caps sent a first round draft pick, prospect Zach Sanford and a conditional pick to St. Louis.

“Every year, to me, it’s a first plus a prospect for the top [unrestricted free agent] guys, and it goes from there,” MacLellan said. “I think the market is fairly similar to what it’s been in the past. So this is in line with what’s happened previously.”

MacLellan said he expects the coaching staff to use the final 21 games of the regular season to figure out where Shattenkirk best fits into the lineup, at even strength and on the power play. 

RELATED: Shattenkirk trade may lead to another deal for the Capitals

Shattenkirk is expected to meet the team in New York and make his Capitals' debut at Madison Square Garden.  

MacLellan also said he consulted T.J. Oshie and Brooks Orpik prior to making the deal. Oshie played with Shattenkirk in St. Louis; Orpik played with him on Team USA.

“I’ve done as much homework as I can on the person,” MacLellan said. “I’ve talked to T.J. Oshie. I’ve talked to Brooks Orpik [about] what kind of guy he is, how would he fit in, what’s his personality like, do the guys like him. I did as much as I could on that side of it to reassure us that he’s a good fit personality wise.”

MacLellan acknowledged that bringing on a big minute blueliner such as Shattenkirk could diminish other players' roles. But he hopes those players will be able to see the bigger picture.

“When you bring in a player of this stature, there’s an excitement, an energy that goes throughout the room,” MacLellan said. “Everybody gets pumped up for the last part of the season. They get excited. You can never tell what it does to the chemistry.”

“As far as the on-ice stuff, there’s a degree of uncertainty,” he added. “It changes roles a little bit. People get less ice time. People get less power play time. I guess the hope is players and coaches and everybody manages it, and that the overall philosophy is everyone is doing what’s best for this team to be successful.”

And what constitutes successful at this point?

“Winning a championship,” MacLellan said.  

MORE CAPS: Two forwards called up from Hershey prior to game vs. Rangers