Toronto 2, Detroit 5 (box)
As Jim Leyland likes to say, your big boys gotta come through if you expect to win. This afternoon in the series opener against Toronto, the big boys for Detroit did just that.
Facing off against one of the better southpaws in the league in Ricky Romero, the Tigers figured to need a great start from Justin Verlander. When you looked at the lineup and saw no Brennan Boesch and no Carlos Guillen, you had to assume Verlander would need to toss a shutout.
The Jays killed all that noise early on. Verlander labored through a 25-pitch, two walk first inning, but escaped without allowing a run. He wasn’t able to avoid trouble in the second, however, when John Buck homered with a runner on to put the Jays on top.
The Tigers scraped together a run in the fourth when Miguel Cabrera singled home Johnny Damon, who had doubled with one out. Detroit managed another run to tie the game in the fifth when Ramon Santiago, Danny Worth, and Austin Jackson each singled after two were out. The game remained tied into the eighth.
Already at 103 pitches entering the eighth inning, Jim Leyland sent his ace back to the hill and Verlander worked around a one-out single by Vernon Wells, stranding him at second by getting Aaron Hill to fly out on a 98 MPH fastball on his 120th pitch of the game. The Tigers offense would have to wake up to earn JV his 12th win of the year.
So, they did. (We’ll tell you how after the jump!)
Romero faced Damon to lead off the bottom of the frame and issued a walk. Shawn Camp was brought in as a reliever, but the normally reliable Camp was unable to settle the Tigers rally. Magglio Ordonez greeted him with a first-pitch single to put runners at first and second, bringing Cabrera to the dish.
Cabrera lined a double into the left-centerfield gap that scored Damon and moved Maggs to third, and there was still no one out. Ryan Raburn, stating in Boesch’s place, followed that with an RBI single to center to make the score 4-2 and one batter later Gerald Laird‘s sacrifice fly put the Tigers up by three.
Jose Valverde slammed the door in the ninth, picking up his 20th save in 21 chances this season. The win puts the Tigers at 50 victories on the year and just two games behind the front-running White Sox in the division.
- Justin Verlander– He allowed a double, triple, and home run to go along with two walks in the first 10 batters he faced, but he sure settled in after that. This was a big time effort after a very shaky start, and a much needed win for the ballclub.
- Miguel Cabrera– This is what MVPs do, I guess. Cabrera twice came up with a runner in scoring position and twice he drove in the run. And this was with Raburn batting behind him.
- Johnny Damon– Damon was on base three times including his rally-starting walk in the eighth. Professional hitter, people.