|Detroit (25-18) «||2||0||2||0||3||0||2||0||4||13||19||0|
|Kansas City (22-23)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||7||1|
Verlander pitched seven shutout innings and the Tigers banged out a season-high 19 hits in a 13-1 victory over the slumping Kansas City Royals on Monday.
Verlander (5-2), who improved to 5-0 with a 0.85 ERA in his last six starts, retired the first nine batters and gave up only five singles and did not allow a runner past second. He did not issue a walk and struck out eight, taking over the major league lead with 85.
"He's one of those guys, if he's on his game, it's not fun," said Laird, who had a two-run home run. "He's throwing 95 to 98 [mph], he's got a sharp breaking ball and a plus-change-up you've got to cover. This guy's locating his stuff and he's pitching ahead in the count."
Verlander agreed that his recent stretch is as good as he's had since breaking into the majors in 2006 as the AL Rookie of the Year.
It certainly is a far cry from his 11-17 record of last season.
"I feel like last year was a big learning curve for me," he said. "After last year, not having my stuff, I was able to pitch a little better and get outs without my best stuff. After this spring, working hard and getting my stuff back, putting those two things together made me a better pitcher."
Verlander also improved to 5-1 with a 1.16 ERA in seven starts at Kauffman Stadium.
Detroit's 19 hits and 13 runs were both season-highs allowed by the Royals, who were leading the AL in pitching but fell four games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.
"It's been a bad day at work," said Royals manager Trey Hillman, who was ejected in the eighth by home plate umpire Paul Emmel.
It was the 12th loss in 16 games for the Royals, who have scored only four runs in their last 42 innings.
"We didn't pitch well. We didn't hit well," Hillman said. "Verlander is very good, but we've got to make better adjustments."
The only excitement for the holiday crowd of 34,524 came in the eighth when Emmel made Hillman the first Royals' ejection of the year. Hillman came out and argued after Willie Bloomquist was called out on strikes in the eighth.
"I told him the ball was low," Bloomquist said. "He said it wasn't. I told him the ball was low. He said not to say another word and I told him the ball was low."
The Tigers jumped on Gil Meche (2-5) for four runs -- two earned -- in 2 1/3 innings on six hits and three walks. After third baseman Mark Teahen misplayed Placido Polanco's grounder in the first inning, Magglio Ordonez and Cabrera each drove in an unearned run.
In the second, Cabrera had an RBI double and Inge made it 4-0 with an RBI single. Laird had a two-run home run in the seventh, and the Tigers added four in the ninth, including Cabrera's two-run double.
Meche went only 2 1/3 innings and was charged with four runs on six hits, three walks and one strikeout.
Every starter had a hit for the Tigers. Thomas was the only starter who did not score and every starter had an RBI except Jeff Larish, who struck out four times.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he removed Verlander after seven because "it was a good day to save him some pitches."
"He's growing all the time," Leyland said. "He's growing as a professional, he's growing as a pitcher and you like to see that. He's doing less and less overthrowing. He's not like a bull in a china shop. He's staying poised and he's just continuing to pitch instead of trying to overthrow it 100 mph."
|Justin Verlander, who works seven scoreless innings, is 5-0 with an 0.85 ERA over his last six starts. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Curtis Granderson, CF||5||2||3||1||1||2||1||.250|
|Placido Polanco, 2B||6||2||1||1||0||0||3||.259|
|Magglio Ordonez, RF||4||1||1||1||1||0||0||.266|
|Josh Anderson, PR-LF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.272|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||6||2||4||3||0||1||1||.378|
|Ryan Raburn, PR-1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.222|
|Jeff Larish, DH||5||1||1||0||1||4||5||.235|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||6||2||3||2||0||1||5||.280|
|Clete Thomas, LF-RF||5||0||2||2||0||1||3||.269|
|Gerald Laird, C||3||2||1||2||2||0||2||.246|
|Ramon Santiago, SS||4||1||2||1||0||0||1||.348|
|2B - Curtis Granderson (5, Mahay), Miguel Cabrera 2 (10, Meche, Wright)|
|HR - Gerald Laird (2, Mahay)|
|SF - Ramon Santiago (1)|
|RBI - Curtis Granderson (27), Placido Polanco (18), Magglio Ordonez (18), Miguel Cabrera 3 (36), Brandon Inge 2 (33), Clete Thomas 2 (8), Gerald Laird 2 (13), Ramon Santiago (20)|
|2-OUT RBI - Gerald Laird 2 (2)|
|SB - Curtis Granderson (6, 2nd base off Meche/Buck)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - Cabrera-Santiago|
|Justin Verlander (W,5-2)||7||5||0||0||0||8||0||3.55|
|Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 96-66, Zach Miner 11-8, Ryan Perry 17-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 6-6, Zach Miner 2-0, Ryan Perry 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 25, Zach Miner 5, Ryan Perry 4|
|Kansas City Royals|
|Coco Crisp, CF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.236|
|Mitch Maier, CF||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.314|
|David DeJesus, LF||4||0||2||1||0||0||1||.242|
|Billy Butler, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.285|
|Jose Guillen, RF||3||0||1||0||1||0||1||.291|
|Mike Jacobs, DH||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.261|
|Mark Teahen, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||2||0||.261|
|Luis Hernandez, SS||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.125|
|Alberto Callaspo, 2B||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.309|
|a- Tug Hulett, PH-2B||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|John Buck, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.235|
|Willie Bloomquist, SS-3B||3||0||0||0||0||3||1||.298|
|a-struck out for Callaspo in the 7th|
|3B - Mitch Maier (1, Miner)|
|RBI - David DeJesus (18)|
|2-OUT RBI - David DeJesus (10)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Callaspo-Bloomquist-Butler|
|E - Mark Teahen (2, Misplayed grounder)|
|Kansas City Royals|
|Gil Meche (L,2-5)||2.1||6||4||2||3||1||0||4.55|
|Pitches-Strikes - Gil Meche 73-40, Sidney Ponson 47-30, Ron Mahay 22-14, Roman Colon 21-14, Jamey Wright 31-19|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Gil Meche 3-4, Sidney Ponson 3-5, Ron Mahay 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Gil Meche 17, Sidney Ponson 14, Ron Mahay 7, Roman Colon 4, Jamey Wright 9|
|Attendance - 34524|
|Game Time - 2:52|
|Temperature - 69|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Angel Campos, Second Base - Bill Hohn, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman|