Detroit 5, Los Angeles 4 (box)
With a chance to salvage a series split before heading off to Texas, the Detroit Tigers turned to their ace right hander, Justin Verlander, against the Los Angeles Angels of Thursday night. While the final score will show the Verlander got the job done, the real victory in this game goes to his bullpen.
Verlander fell into the same rut that has plagued him in each of his first three starts this year. He struggled mightily in the first inning, facing eight batters and allowing two runs. Verlander, handed a 2-0 lead to start the game, could keep the Angels from rallying.
In each of the next two innings, again he labored. After throwing 33 pitches in the first inning, something that has been a problem this season, Verlander threw another 20+ pitches in each of the next two. Despite a quick fourth, Verlander had tossed more than 100 pitches before he recorded even one out in the fifth.
But the Tigers offense put him in line for a victory, thanks to some timely hitting in tough situations. Magglio Ordonez doubled home Johnny Damon to put the Tigers on the board first. Detroit scored their first second-inning run of the season when Adam Everett lifted a sacrifice fly to score Gerald Laird who had doubled to start the frame. The Tigers have wasted far too many lead off doubles this season already.
In the third, the Tigers extended their lead to 5-3 when Miguel Cabrera doubled home a run and Carlos Guillen drove in his second run of the day, this time with a groundout. That would spell the end of the day for Los Angeles starter Joe Saunders, but also the end of the scoring for Detroit.
The Tigers should have plated their sixth run in the fifth, but Guillen came up lame coming around third on a Scott Sizemore single. He feel to the ground and was eventually tagged out to end the inning.
From there, it was up to the Detroit bullpen to bring the game home.
Joel Zumaya tossed a perfect sixth, then allowed a double in the seventh before Phil Coke worked out of the inning. When Coke gave up a leadoff single in the eighth, Ryan Perry came on and allowed another hit, plus a hit batsman, but also escaped unscathed by striking out three in the inning.
There was little drama in the ninth as Jose Valverde closed out the Angels for the second straight night.
Cheers and Jeers after the jump, as always.
- Adam Everett– Everett doesn’t usually come through, at least it seems, but he did his job in the second inning with his fly ball that scored the Tigers third run. His usual stellar defense also played a role in keeping the Tigers in the lead that he gave them.
- Jose Valverde– After walking the first batter of the ninth on four pitches, Valverde immediately fell behind Torii Hunter. But Valverde recovered by getting Hunter to chop a double play ball to third, and mercifully ended the game before 2 am eastern.
- Johnny Damon– Damon had three hits including two doubles. What’s more, he finally got rid of those horrid white shoes.
- Matt Palmer– The Angels reliever fared extremely well last season when facing Detroit and continued to baffle Detroit last night. Palmer was helped out by Guillen’s injury (more on that later today), but didn’t allow a run in 4.1 innings of relief, keeping the Angels close.
- Justin Verlander– It took him 125 pitches to work five innings. He allowed six hits, four runs, and four walks. As Jim Leyland likes to say about his offense, the big boys need to perform if the Tigers are going to win enough games. The big boys in the rotation are Verlander and Rick Porcello, and neither are doing what they need to do so far this year.
What’s on tap?
Detroit, now 3-4 on this 11-game road trip, heads to Arlington to battle to Rangers tonight. Max Scherzer (1-1, 2.12), the Tigers best starter so far, will take the ball against the Rangers for the second time in his career. He held Texas to two runs over seven innings in a start last June while pitching for Arizona.
He will be opposed by Scott Feldman (1-1, 4.41), a 17-game winner a season ago. Feldman has a career ERA of 8.82 versus the Tigers.
Scherzer will have a new face to help him in his quest for a second win this year, as Brennan Boesch was recalled from Toledo this morning to replace Guillen on the active roster. Guillen was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Boesch is expected to be in the lineup tonight.