“Absolutely. We lost our last two games, and I really just wanted to go out there and make a statement,” he said Tuesday night after leading the Tigers to a 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox. “Everybody on this team can play that role. I just happened to be the guy today.”
Verlander (4-1) allowed two runs and six hits over 7 2-3 innings, striking out seven before leaving the game when Kevin Youkilis hit a solo home run in the eighth. The reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Verlander has allowed four earned runs in four road starts this season.
“We needed something like that, and he gave it to us,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “They’re one of the best teams in baseball, but hopefully they’re feeling the same way about us.”
Brandon Inge and Magglio Ordonez homered to cool off Tim Wakefield (4-4), and Ivan Rodriguez had three hits for Detroit. The Tigers have won 12 of their last 15 games despite losing their previous two, including Monday’s 7-1 loss to Boston in Daisuke Matsuzaka’s first major league complete game.
Detroit faced another strong pitcher in Wakefield, who was leading the AL in opponents’ batting average, second in the league in ERA and hadn’t allow a run in his two previous starts. But the Red Sox failed to give him any support, again: They have scored just 10 runs in his last 15 losses while he was in the game.
“Ordonez had one good swing, and all of a sudden they had four runs on the board,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “We all respect what (Wakefield) has done, and he has been spectacular.”
Ordonez is 15-for-33 against Wakefield in his career and batting .369 (94-for-255) against the Red Sox with 13 homers and 54 RBIs in 68 games.
“My history against Ordonez is not very good,” Wakefield said. “Understanding (that), I still have to pitch to him.”
J.D. Drew bruised his lower back when he banged into the bullpen wall going after Inge’s homer, and he left the game after seven.
“His lower back is a little sore,” Francona said. “We will evaluate him again tomorrow.”
Wakefield allowed a season-high five runs and nine hits with a walk. He struck out four and left after walking Sheffield to start the eighth. Rodriguez doubled two outs later to make it 5-1, then Craig Monroe and Sean Casey hit consecutive RBI singles.
Boston had won three straight and seven of its last eight.
Wakefield’s ERA went from 1.79 to 2.41. … The Red Sox have sold out 325 consecutive home games, a streak that began four years ago, on May 15, 2003. … Boston RHP Josh Beckett threw off a mound before Tuesday night’s game, and the Red Sox were encouraged by his progress healing from a flap of skin on his right middle finger. … Matsuzaka’s complete game was the first by a Red Sox pitcher since Sept. 22 and the first by a Red Sox pitcher at Fenway Park since April 15, 2006. … C Doug Mirabelli caught Sheffield’s foul pop with his bare hand after it popped out of his glove. … Verlander threw a season-high 120 pitches. … The Red Sox went 49 innings without hitting a homer before Youkilis’ shot.