With the Detroit Tigers trying to hold on to first place in their division, these are exciting times at Comerica Park—and never more so than when Verlander is on the mound.
Verlander allowed one run over 7 2-3 innings to become baseball’s first 18-game winner, and the Tigers breezed to an easy 7-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. The Tigers lead the Indians by three games in the AL Central.
Verlander labored through a 29-pitch first inning but settled down after that, allowing seven hits in another impressive outing.
“Every win’s important for us right now,” the Detroit ace said.
Verlander (18-5) struck out eight to surpass 200 on the year, walked one and lowered his ERA to 2.31.
His 200th strikeout came in the sixth, when Justin Morneau(notes) watched a breaking ball drop toward the outside corner, then slowly walked back to the dugout looking like he was about to roll his eyes.
Morneau finally managed an RBI single that inning, chasing Verlander from the game. The tall right-hander received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd when it became clear he was being lifted.
By then, the Tigers had this one all but wrapped up.
“I was a little concerned because the pitch count got pretty high in the first inning, but then he took care of that as the game went on,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He did great. We get spoiled, to be honest with you.”
He did pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth, drawing a standing ovation from the Detroit crowd. That reception then morphed almost seamlessly into a celebration when Thome struck out to end the game.
“He’s a tough cookie. That’s why he’s about to win the Cy Young,” Minnesota outfielder Ben Revere(notes) said. “When he’s going like that, with that lineup, you don’t have a chance. You have to figure on scoring five or six runs to beat them—tonight, it would have been eight—and that’s not going to happen against him.”
Santiago led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer that made it 6-0, and Cabrera, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games, added an RBI single.
NOTES: Verlander threw 121 pitches. … Minnesota SS Tsuyoshi Nishioka(notes) turned a slick double play in the eighth, fielding Boesch’s grounder up the middle, sweeping his right leg across second base as he ran by, then throwing to first. … Detroit’s Delmon Young(notes) and Cabrera were thrown out at second in back-to-back at-bats in the sixth, trying to stretch singles into doubles. … Minnesota OF Denard Span(notes), who has been recovering from a concussion, did not play. … The teams play Wednesday night in the rubber game of the three-game series. Detroit’s Brad Penny(notes) (8-9) takes the mound against Minnesota’s Carl Pavano(notes) (6-9). … The Tigers are 9-2 against the Twins this season.