The All-Star pitcher and reigning AL Rookie of the Year gave up just three hits and Placido Polanco was one of three Tigers with at least three hits to lead Detroit to a 16-0 win over New York on Monday night.
It was the most one-sided road shutout loss in the Yankees' history, topping a 15-0 defeat at the Chicago White Sox on July 15, 1907, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"We're playing with a sense of urgency right now because our fate is in our own hands," Verlander said. "We need to just go out and have fun and play like we did for most of the first half of the season."
The Tigers took three of the four games and won a series for the first time since sweeping Minnesota from July 17-19. They won back-to-back games for just the third time since having baseball's best record on July 21.
"If you don't get any confidence from taking three out of four against the Yankees, you probably don't have a pulse," said Brandon Inge, who had four RBI on three hits.
Detroit didn't make up any ground in the AL Central, though, because the Cleveland Indians won their third straight game to maintain a 2½-game lead.
"Everything is so tight that whoever gets hot right now is going to win this thing," Casey said.
The Tigers scored their most runs since beating Baltimore 17-2 last Sept. 15. It was their highest-scoring shutout victory since a 17-0 win at Kansas City on July 19, 1991, according to Elias.
Detroit turned a rout into a laugher with a six-run seventh and finished with 20 hits.
"Everybody is going to talk about the offense, but I really liked the look in Verlander's eye," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He really went at a real good hitting team.
"To me, that was the bright spot of the evening."
New York has lost five of seven games and fell eight games behind AL East-leading Boston. The Yankees, who had closed within four games of the Red Sox when the trip started, host Boston in a three-game set starting Tuesday night.
"This has been a bad road trip, and now we've got a very important homestand ahead of us," Derek Jeter said. "We don't have the luxury of taking a break because we've had a bad week. We have to start winning again."
Verlander (14-5) struck out six and walked two over seven innings in his best start since throwing a no-hitter on June 12 against Milwaukee. He has won three of his last four starts.
Mussina (8-10) might've pitched himself out of the rotation, lasting just three innings and giving up six runs, nine hits and a walk.
"Give me a day to digest it, and I'll be able to answer some more questions," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
For the first time in Mussina's 17 seasons, he has allowed at least six earned runs in three straight starts and lasted three innings or fewer in back-to-back outings. Mussina has allowed 19 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings -- an ERA of 17.69 -- in his last three starts and his season ERA has gone from 4.50 to 5.53.
Mussina, 0-7 this season when the Yankees lost the previous game, wants to work through his problems while staying in the rotation.
"I can't believe in three starts that I forgot how to pitch after 17 years," he said. "So I just hope he has confidence enough in me to keep sending me out there and let me figure this out.
"But at the same time, we've got to win ballgames and I'll understand if he thinks that we need to do something else."
They combined for the pitching staff's worst performance since the Los Angeles Angels beat the Yankees 18-9 on Aug. 21 -- Mussina's previous start.
Polanco, the first to face Ramirez, led off the fourth with a 392-foot shot to left.
Casey led off the fifth with his first triple since 2004 off Henn, then the next six Tigers combined to score three runs on two singles, a double, two walks and an RBI groundout.
"I only go three bags at a time," joked the slow-footed Casey, who also scored a run from first base on a double.
When Ryan Raburn's RBI single went over Jeter's head, the star shortstop slumped his shoulders with emotions many of his teammates probably shared at that moment as the Tigers went ahead 8-0.
- Torre said the team will likely make a move to add a reliever before Tuesday's game.
- The Tigers put DH Gary Sheffield (shoulder) on the DL.
- Jeter (knee) was back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday's loss, and Matsui was used at DH to rest a sore knee.
- The Yankees-Tigers drew 174,109 and set a record for a four-game series at Comerica Park, which opened in 2000.
- Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani was at the game after attending a fundraiser across the street.