Detroit’s Chris Shelton wasted no time putting a frustrating road trip behind him.
Shelton looks to stay hot at the plate when the Tigers continue their three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
Shelton was one of the biggest surprises in baseball at the start of the season, hitting .471 with nine homers and 17 RBIs through his first 13 games. However, he went just 4-for-29 (.138) with no homers in his next nine games, all on the road, dropping his season average to .350.
In his first game back from the trip on Friday, Shelton hit a third-inning homer to help lead the Tigers (14-9) to a 9-0 victory over the Twins. Shelton tied Cecil Fielder’s 1996 team record with 10 homers in April.
“The best thing about it is the fact that it came in a win,” Shelton said. “It’s an honor to be mentioned with Cecil Fielder, to have my name next to him. … Everybody kind of had their own game plan tonight, and they executed it, and it worked tonight.”
Marcus Thames snapped an 0-for-19 slump with his second-inning homer, and finished 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs.
“Obviously, we swung the bats well,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “I was worried, because it was the first game back off a West Coast trip.”
Shannon Stewart had two hits for the Twins (9-13), who have lost eight of 11.
“That was a bad night,” said manager Ron Gardenhire. “We played a lousy game all around.”
The Venezuelan right-hander, who gave up back-to-back homers in both the fourth and sixth innings, has allowed 15 runs and 25 hits in his last two starts, both losses, and has allowed at least five runs in each of his four outings this season.
“It’s a little bit of mechanics,” pitching coach Rick Anderson said Thursday. “He’s getting under his pitches, and it is all flattening out. His ball is not sinking.”
Silva is 3-2 with a 3.81 ERA in eight career starts against the Tigers.
Verlander, whose fastball can reach 100 mph, bounced back after allowing 11 runs in 9 2-3 innings in his previous two starts. He struck out just three after fanning seven in his previous start, but still managed to outduel another young phenom, Felix Hernandez.
“I’m glad Verlander is on our team so I don’t have to face him,” Curtis Granderson said. “He looks like he has an edge in this game—and he’s only 20 years old.”
Verlander faced Minnesota in one of his two starts last season, allowing five runs and eight hits and striking out three in six innings of a 5-2 loss on July 23.