CHICAGO (AP)—Throwing at nearly 100 mph with pinpoint control right through his 122nd and final delivery, Justin Verlander(notes) was so good for so long that the Chicago White Sox couldn’t believe what they had witnessed.
“It’s almost PlayStation stuff, watching him throw the ball exactly where he wants to—with movement, velocity, the works,” said White Sox starter John Danks(notes), who pitched 7 1-3 strong innings Wednesday night but couldn’t match Verlander in Chicago’s 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
“Ninety-nine percent of us only wish we had his stuff. To sit there and watch him paint a 97 mph fastball on the outside corner at the knees and then throw a perfect 82 mph curve, that’s just impressive.”
Verlander (7-2) pitched a six-hitter, striking out nine and walking one in his second complete game this season. In addition to saving the exhausted Detroit bullpen and carrying the Tigers to their fifth victory in six games, the big right-hander finally won at U.S. Cellular Field.
It took him 10 tries.
“It’s been a pain in the butt,” said Verlander, who had been 0-6 with a 5.92 ERA in his personal house of horrors and 2-9 with a 5.90 ERA against the White Sox. “These guys have had my number for three years, so it was very nice to come in here and throw a good game.”
Even though Jim Thome(notes) hit his 552nd career home run, Chicago lost for the eighth time in 10 games to fall 6 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit. The White Sox got only two other men as far as third base—and Verlander made sure neither would score.
With Brian Anderson(notes) on third and one out in the sixth, Verlander retired Alexei Ramirez(notes) on a pop-up before striking out Jermaine Dye(notes) with a perfectly located, 98 mph fastball. Chris Getz(notes) was on third with two outs in the eighth when Verlander got Ramirez swinging on a nasty curve in the dirt.
Indeed, Verlander is 7-0 with a league-low 1.10 ERA since April 27. The seven-decision streak matched his career best of 2006, when he helped Detroit reach the World Series.
“When you talk about a horse, that’s a horse,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “He matched up against an outstanding pitcher and was just tremendous.”
Danks (4-5) gave up five hits and struck out seven in his best performance in six weeks. The only runs he allowed came on Adam Everett’s(notes) sixth-inning homer and a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Raburn(notes) in the seventh. Danks had a 7.02 ERA over his previous eight starts, the third-highest in the majors since April 28.
“It’s nice to go out there and give us innings and a chance to win,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I got outpitched and we lost another game.”
NOTES: White Sox 1B Paul Konerko(notes) left in the eighth inning with a jammed right thumb. Konerko, who has battled thumb problems for years, was to be re-evaluated Thursday. … It was the ninth straight quality start for Verlander, the longest streak by a Detroit pitcher since Justin Thompson had nine in 1997. … White Sox LF Carlos Quentin(notes), on the DL with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, has started jogging but manager Ozzie Guillen doesn’t expect the slugger back before the All-Star break. … The Tigers used their second-round draft pick to select Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Oliver, who successfully sued the NCAA earlier this year. An Ohio judge tossed out an NCAA rule preventing college ballplayers from hiring advisers who are in direct contact with big league clubs. The NCAA had suspended Oliver after he used an attorney in negotiations with the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him out of high school in 2006. Oliver, who opted to go to college instead of signing a pro contract, is now represented by Scott Boras.