Minnesota 1, Detroit 10 (box)
When pitches with the ability of Justin Verlander and Francisco Liriano matchup, you don’t expect to see one team score 10 runs. Liriano worked through the first three innings, allowing a pair of doubles, but also striking out four. In the fourth, the Tigers got to him with a lead-off single and a two run homer from Miguel Cabrera. After walking the next batter, and getting ahead 1-2 on Casper Wells, Liriano called the trainer to the mound and after a lengthy discussion, he left the game.
“I’ve been sick for the last three or four days and it just got worse while I was out there,” Liriano said. “I was getting dizzy, so I had to come out.” Shortstop Alexi Casilla was removed at the same time, apparently also with an illness.
The Tigers went back to work in the sixth, when each of the first four batters reached base against reliever Jeff Manship. Ryan Raburn‘s second hit of the night was followed by a single by Cabrera. Jhonny Peralta added a single that plated Raburn and Wells knocked in two with a triple. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Brennan Boesch.
That offense would be more than enough for Verlander.
The Tigers right hander went the distance in his last start, a win at Chicago. Last night, he was even better. Verlander’s trademark curve was missing for most of the season, but last month, something clicked. Since then, he has had a full arsenal at his disposal and the results speak fro themselves. Buy in case you would like actual words, Jim Leyland said of Verlander “His curveball was working all game, and when it is working, it is the best in the league.” Joining in the praise was Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, quipping that “Verlander was the story — he just ate us up. We watched his last couple starts on TV, and he’s been doing that to everyone. Right now, his stuff is as good as anyone in the league.”
The Tigers piled on later in the game when Peralta launched a three-run homer to left and Wells made it back-to-back with a long home run of his own.
After throwing just 104 pitches through eight, it was not a shock when Verlander went back to the mound smelling a shutout. By all rights, he should have gotten it, but Peralta rushed a throw to first on a Denard Span groundball that sailed high for an error. Two batters later, with now two outs in the inning, Will Rhymes ranged to his right and collected a Jason Kuble grounder. He had plenty of time, but uncoiled a wide throw, causing Don Kelly to have to dive to make the catch. That play was originally ruled a hit, but was later changed to the second error of the inning. The Twins would score an unearned run on a single by Michael Cuddyer, but Verlander was able to finish off the four-hit complete game victory.
There’s plenty of folks that will tell you that won-loss record is a useless statistic, but while it may not be an end-all stat, it still has some significance for me. The win gave Verlander 18 of them this season, the third time in four years he’s reached that total. He’s got one start remaining and a win in Baltimore will match his career high of 19, set last year.
Verlander, who matched a season-high with 11 K’s in the game, also passed the 200 strikeout mark for the second straight season and the Tigers’ staff eclipsed the 1000 strikeout plateau for just the 11th time in team history. Speaking of strikeouts, Brandon Inge fanned twice, leaving him at 1098 for his career, just one behind franchise leader Lou Whitaker. Inge has played in 1288 career games for the Tigers. It took Whitaker 2390 games to set the record.