And the Detroit Tigers ace did not disappoint.
He pitched into the fifth inning without allowing any runs.
In fact, Verlander did not give up a hit until the fifth inning. He struck out four. He only walked one batter: Bryce Harper. His only hit was single earned by Adam Eaton – the old nemesis from the Chicago White Sox. Verlander then committed a throwing error that allowed Eaton to advance to second.
Verlander’s stuff was sharp and by the fifth inning, the scoreboard was showing that his pitches were up to 96 MPH. It did take JV an inning to get into his groove, but by the third inning, he was striking out batters with pretty put-away pitches. It was clear from his facial expressions and some swears that JV was frustrated with a few of his pitches, especially with Harper’s walk.
Along with Verlander’s quality outing, J.D. Martinez was back to mid-season form after his second home run in just as many days. The big hit traveled out to left field, over the Tigers’ bullpen. It was certainly a no-doubter from the moment it left the bat. The fact that he hit it off of Strasburg made it even sweeter.
Tyler Collins scored the final run for the Tigers in the top of the 7th. After a quiet spring training with a .190 batting average and four RBIs, he finally hit one out of the park. His home run went to left center and travel deeply into the berm. It was a nice sign of power Collins who is still fighting for a spot on the team.
While the second two runs were typical Tigers style, the first one was not. Brendan Ryan, who played second base, scored the first run off of a Jose Iglesias sac fly in the top of the third. He made his way to the basepath with a double to right field. He, then, stole third base showing off his quick speed. The successful steal was a treat for Tigers fans who don’t get to see those very often! It was refreshing to see the Tigers work to manufacture runs rather than just swinging for the fences hoping for home runs.
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The score was not representative of the quality pitching and playing that the Tigers veterans showed against the Nationals veterans. Andrew Romine and Mikie Mahtook both got on base with solidly hit singles. Mahtook and Collins made solid plays in the outfield. Even Blaine Hardy and Shane Greene pitched well. Each threw one strike out and Hardy walked one batter.
The trouble started when the vets left the game and Myles Jaye took the mound. He allowed all three runs and could not get control of his pitches. But, Angel Nesbitt and A.J. Achter put the hits to rest and kept the game tied. It was eventually called in the 10th inning.
If the veterans can keep up what they did against the Nats, then the season could have some hope. A few home runs and a stolen base, along with quality pitching makes for a good show for fans.