It had to come sometime. The Tigers dropped their first contest of the season to Baltimore 3-1 as Chris Tillman pitched into the ninth, allowing just five hits.
Justin Verlander pitched well, putting efficiency over strikeouts and pitching eight strong innings. He fanned just three but his lower pitch count enabled him to pitch through eight, giving up just five hits. However, he made two mistakes that cost him the game: a two out double to Nelson Cruz allowed Baltimore to tie it in the 6th, and a one out triple by Nick Markakis in the eighth. The triple scored when a two-strike Verlander breaking ball stayed up a bit too much and Adam Jones hit a deep sac fly to give Baltimore the lead.
Detroit’s bullpen gave up yet another run in the 9th as Matt Wieters hit an opposite field home run off Al Alburquerque to extend the lead to 3-1.
Verlander was outpitched by Tillman, who was perfect until the fourth when Torii Hunter continued his torrid series with his third homer in as many games. That proved to be Tillman’s only blemish, though. No other Tiger runner made it past second, and the only other extra base hit he allowed was a one out double by Victor Martinez in the ninth that ended up chasing him from the ballgame.
Tommy Hunter relieved Tillman with Martinez at second and one out and struck out Austin Jackson and got Tyler Collins to ground out to collect his second save.
The 4-1 Tigers will now embark on both their first road trip and their first interleague foray of 2014, as they head out to Los Angeles to start a series against the Dodgers on Tuesday night.