Typically, six runs for Justin Verlander should be enough. But as has been the issue far too often this season, it was not – the Twins took the series against a struggling Detroit pitching staff with a 7-6 victory.
The main issue, again, was Verlander. The stuff, as usual, was there for him today – he struck out six in seven innings. But his command was once again lacking, as he walked three and gave up ten hits. A single and double combination got him in the first inning. In the fourth, it was an unlucky check-swing single that got the Twins second run in. There was no excuse for the fifth, however, when he allowed a single, issued a walk, then hung a curve to Ryan Doumit which ended up in the right field seats beyond the out of town scoreboard.
Verlander’s struggles took away from some solid fightback from the Tigers’ lineup. Bryan Holaday hit his first big league homer and got the silent treatment for it. Prince Fielder put the Tigers ahead briefly with an RBI single in the third. Holaday got his first multi-RBI game with a single in the sixth, and Austin Jackson capped off a four-run inning by blasting a Josh Roenicke curveball over the wall in left to tie the game.
The Tigers’ bullpen couldn’t preserve the tie, however, and they did not have much help from the defense. Bruce Rondon committed the cardinal sin of walking the number nine hitter with one out in the eighth. After a groundout moved that runner to second, Drew Smyly came in and got Chris Herrmann to hit a knuckling line drive toward center. It was here that Austin Jackson’s personal no diving policy cost the Tigers dearly. The ball was moving away from him, and Jackson appeared to get a bad initial read on it and had to take a less than optimal route toward the line drive. Jackson, as he always does, elected to stay on his feet, and the ball dropped just out of his reach. A diving attempt probably would have given him a much better chance at making the catch. Instead, it ended up being a double and the go-ahead run ended up scoring.
The Tigers did not have one last fightback in them. They got two men on against Glen Perkins with one out, but Victor Martinez sharply hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the ballgame.
Things don’t get easier for the Tigers as they’ll head to New York to play some National League baseball against the Mets. They’ll have to contend with Matt Harvey, whose numbers speak for themselves, on Saturday. On Sunday, they’ll need to find a way to get past Dillon Gee, whose ERA over the last month is below 2.