The Juice: Justin Verlander strikes out 14 Yankees, Jered Weaver dominates in Oakland opener

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

The Juice is going strong in its fifth season of fun! Stop by each weekday for an ample serving of news from the action, plus great photos, stats and video highlights.

'Hopefully your ace in an ace': That was the hope aired by Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland and it was something he didn't have to worry about on Monday night. Or ever, really. Justin Verlander was vintage in the opener of a big four-game set against the New York Yankees, striking out 14 batters in a 7-2 victory at Comerica Park.  The big right-hander threw a season-high 132 pitches in becoming the eighth pitcher to record 14 or more strikeouts in a game this season. Some might worry about all those pitches thrown in what was essentially a laugher, but Verlander left the game just as strong as he started it, reaching 100 on the gun in the eighth inning. Any chance he can go the next three nights for the Tigers, too?

Weaver blanks Oakland: Speaking of aces getting a team off on the right foot in a big series, Jered Weaver was unstoppable against the A's. The Angels' ace threw a four-hit shutout and struck out nine Oakland batters in a 4-0 win at the Coliseum. The victory vaulted the Halos into an AL wild-card spot, something the Angels hope to have a firmer grip on when they leave on Wednesday night. The best part of the win, though, may have been the Los Angeles bullpen getting a much-needed rest after long series in Texas and Chicago.

Twenty to end it before 20: Let the countdown begin. With a 4-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night, the 62-win Pittsburgh Pirates are now 20 victories away from ending their run of losing seasons at 19 straight. There are 54 games remaining on the season, which means the Pirates only have to play .370 baseball the rest of the way to end the notorious streak. To put that in perspective, only one Pirates squad out of the past 19 has played .370 or lower baseball over an entire season (2010's 105-loss team, .352).

End of an era: Meanwhile, on the other side of Pennsylvania, another streak was officially coming to an end. *Only* 41,665 fans were announced for the Phillies' 6-1  loss to Ben Sheets and Atlanta, ending the Citizens Bank Park sellout streak  at 257 games. The run had started on July 7, 2009. As for the game, the news might have been worse on the field. The Phillies lost their seventh straight game to the Braves and recorded their 60th loss of the season. They lost only 60 games in all of 2011.

* * *

Quote of the day

''I asked one of my coaches to pinch me tonight because I couldn't believe it was happening again."

— Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose Indians lost their 10th straight game with a 14-3 thumping by Minnesota. The Twins scored 10 runs in the second inning.

* * *

Photo of the day: Ow.

Every picture of White Sox starter Chris Sale mid-delivery boggles the mind, but his left arm defied the odds yet again by staying attached to his body in a 4-2 win over Kansas City. Sale was coming off a nine-day rest period, which led Smell Like Mascot's Carl Skanberg to draw a cartoon that surmises Sale's arm has become something different altogether.

* * *

Three facts for the water cooler

• Texas Rangers rookie Yu Darvish is 1-4 with a 7.76 ERA over his last five starts, which includes a 9-2 pasting by the Boston Red Sox on Monday. Darvish threw a career-high 123 pitches and allowed a career-high 11 hits while giving up six runs over 6 2/3 innings.

• Jake Westbrook has won four straight starts after beating Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants 8-2 at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have won four straight games.

• The Orioles moved to 58-51 with a 3-1 win over Seattle. Baltimore didn't record its 58th victory last season until Sept. 9 — when the team had already racked up 85 losses. The O's need 24 victories over their final 53 games to end the franchise's streak of 15 straight losing seasons.

Want more baseball fun all season long?
Follow @bigleaguestew@KevinKaduk and the BLS Facebook page!