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“No offense to him, because he beat us and all that, but we didn’t swing the bats well,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “I got a little worried right off the bat.”

Verlander threw two wild pitches and made another crucial error to help the Cardinals wrap up the series in the fifth game.

Those travails are all but forgotten now. With the season on the line in Game 5 of this year’s division series against Oakland, Verlander tossed a four-hit shutout and struck out 11 in one of the best games ever pitched by a Tiger in the postseason. Detroit then swept New York in four games in the AL championship series.

Verlander allowed a homer in the ninth inning in Game 3 of the ALCS, falling just short of becoming the first pitcher to throw consecutive shutouts in the postseason since Orel Hershiser did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988. Detroit won anyway, 2-1.

On Wednesday night, Verlander will go back to work, with his usual businesslike attitude and tireless approach. He’s well aware that no matter how talented you are, anything can happen in October.

“This is the game of baseball,” he said. “I don’t think myself nor the Tigers take anything for granted, no matter who’s on the mound.”