Home > Uncategorized > Tigers roll Twins as Verlander wins No. 13

Tigers roll Twins as Verlander wins No. 13

July 21, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Typically, a leadoff triple is going to result in a run. For Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, it’s more of an opportunity to show off his stuff.

When right fielder Michael Cuddyer opened the second inning of Thursday’s 6-2 Tigers win at Target Field with a triple to the gap in right, the Twins looked like they might put together a rally. Instead, Verlander reached back for something extra to get a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to strand the runner.

“It’s not a high point, but it’s exciting and a momentum builder for our team,” Verlander said. “At that point, it’s 0-0, a leadoff triple and most of the time, that guy’s going to score. Being able to get out of that inning unscathed kind of turned it around and gave our guys a little shot in the arm.”

Verlander pitched brilliantly throughout Thursday’s game, bouncing back from his worst outing of the season to pick up his 13th win as the Tigers earned their 10th straight win over Minnesota.

With the victory, the Tigers lead the Indians, who were idle, by a half-game, taking sole possession of first place in the American League Central for the first time since July 10.

“We let one get away last night, there’s no question about that,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, referring to the club’s 7-5 loss Wednesday to the A’s. “We came here tonight, we had our horse going, he gave us a great effort, we got some big hits and we got a nice win.”

Verlander (13-5) went eight innings, giving up just one run on five hits with nine strikeouts. He did not walk a batter, and faced just two over the minimum through five innings.

He was especially impressive against slugger Jim Thome, who has seven career homers off Verlander. Thome struck out all three times he faced Verlander, stranding four runners.

“He kind of goes hand-in-hand with me as a pitcher,” Verlander said. “Early in my career, he really had my number. I made a lot of mistakes to him, and he did a lot of damage with those mistakes. It seems like over the years I’ve been able to cut down those mistakes to less and less and therefore allow less and less damage.”

Only once did Verlander allow more than one baserunner in an inning, when the Twins scored a run on three straight two-out singles in the sixth inning.

Three Twins — Alexi Casilla, Joe Mauer and Cuddyer — got hits off Verlander. The other six went a combined 0-for-19 against the Tigers ace, who topped out at 99 mph on the night.

“It’s tough because he can throw 100 [mph] and then drop of an 80-mph curveball or slider,” said Twins center fielder Ben Revere, who went 0-for-4 on the night. “He knows the back door and the front door. He can place it anywhere. He’s a big-time All-Star, and I’ll say he’ll be a future Hall of Famer, too.”

At the plate, the Tigers put up more than enough offense to support Verlander, knocking Twins right-hander Carl Pavano out of the game after just six innings. Pavano gave up five runs on nine hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

The fifth and sixth were the big innings for Detroit. Brennan Boesch belted a two-run homer — his 14th of the year — with two outs in the fifth, and the Tigers added two more in the sixth. Verlander said the Boesch home run was crucial, allowing him to be more aggressive with a three-run lead than he would with a one-run advantage.

“I just had to battle all game, and I got a pitch to hit and didn’t miss it,” Boesch said. “[Pavano’s] had a lot of success against me, so I knew I had to really focus today.”

Miguel Cabrera led off the sixth with a double, followed by a Victor Martinez single, a Jhonny Peralta double and a sacrifice fly from Carlos Guillen.

Peralta added a solo homer in the eighth, his 15th of the season, into the second deck in left off Twins reliever Chuck James. Peralta finished a triple shy of the cycle, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

Phil Coke pitched the ninth inning, allowing an unearned run on a Wilson Betemit throwing error. Betemit was appearing in his first game since being acquired on Wednesday from the Royals.

“We got some timely hits, Jhonny Peralta had a very good night,” Leyland said. “Big hits we got, and just a good win for us. Coke, I thought, looked really sharp at the end, really good.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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