Verlander tied New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia(notes) for the AL lead in victories, Adam Everett(notes) hit a tiebreaking RBI single during a three-run ninth and the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.
Verlander (16-7) allowed one run and four hits over eight innings. He has won three consecutive starts.
“I’m not worried about 16, I’m worried about one, and that’s today,” Verlander said. “And even if I didn’t get the win today, if we came away with the ‘W’ I’d be more than happy.”
The Tigers expanded their lead to six games over Minnesota, which lost 5-2 to Cleveland.
During the postgame celebration on the field, Rodney threw the game ball toward the stands and it ended up in the press box. No one was hit by the ball, which Rodney said he was throwing to the fans.
“Feeling the moment,” Rodney said. “A little celebration.”
Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he didn’t see the throw, but planned to check into it. Rodney, after making 35 pitches, will not pitch on Saturday.
“I think he was a little more sluggish than normal,” Leyland said. “I’m going to give him a day off for sure. He deserves it.”
“Verlander and Niemann were the key,” Leyland said. “They were both brilliant.”
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon feels Niemann should be the AL rookie of the league.
“I don’t know who is better right now,” Maddon said. “He’s been fantastic.”
Pinch hitter Ryan Raburn(notes) opened the ninth by drawing a walk from J.P. Howell(notes) (7-5) and went to second one out later when pinch hitter Marcus Thames(notes) walked. Everett then gave the Tigers a 2-1 advantage when he lined a single to left on the first pitch.
“You want to quit and scream, but there’s tomorrow, too,” said Howell, who is 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in his last 14 outings. “There’s another opportunity tomorrow for you to improve.”
Longoria put the Rays ahead 1-0 on an RBI double in the second.
“He’s got to be the best thrower in the league right now,” Leyland said.
NOTES: Detroit has decided to have Verlander stay on his normal schedule and start Wednesday’s game at Kansas City. With an off day Monday, there was an option to give him an extra day of rest. … Rays CF B.J. Upton(notes) (sprained left ankle) could return early next week. … Leyland plans to have RHP Jeremy Bonderman(notes) (blood clot) make his first appearance in a low-leverage situation. … Jackson, traded by Tampa Bay to Detroit during the offseason, is scheduled to start Sunday’s game against the Rays.