"I knew I was the only guy that got a good night's sleep, so I better do a good job," he said. "If I don't, my early flight was all for naught."
Verlander allowed one run in eight innings as the Tigers beat the Mariners 4-1 after Detroit got home early in the morning after a game Wednesday night in Texas. Verlander pitched so quickly that the "night" game ended at dusk, with the final pitch coming just 16 minutes after sunset.
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"We didn't get home until 4 o'clock, so this worked out really well for us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We sent Justin home earlier, obviously, but couldn't ask for a better guy to pitch for you when the guys are a little tired. He was terrific."
Verlander (7-3) struck out a season-best 10 while allowing five hits and a walk. He's 5-0 in his last seven starts with a 2.14 ERA, and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 22,090 while returning to the dugout after the eighth.
"I don't feel like this is my best run, but I feel like I'm pitching pretty well," he said. "I just want to keep this momentum going."
Seattle's Brendan Ryan is just glad the Mariners won't face Verlander again this season, unless both make the playoffs.
"It isn't fun facing him; it is not fun at all," Ryan said. "He's throwing 98, he's got closer stuff and he's got extra pitches on top of that. He throws them all where he wants them, and he throws them on any count. It's tough."
Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his 16th save in as many tries.
Doug Fister (3-7) dropped to 1-4 since May 1, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks in his eight innings. He's 1-12 in 19 career starts against the AL Central.
After the Tigers stranded runners on third with fewer than two outs in both the third and fourth innings, the Mariners went ahead in the fifth.
Greg Halman singled, stole second, moved to third on a flyball and scored on a wild pitch.
Detroit, though, came back with four in the bottom of the inning. Jhonny Peralta singled and scored on Alex Avila's second triple of the game. With two outs, Don Kelly's single gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead, and Brennan Boesch followed with his eighth homer of the season.
"I kept letting the leadoff hitters get on, and it came back to hurt me in that inning," Fister said. "Avila got me twice when I left sinkers too far over the plate, and Boesch hit a cutter that wasn't far enough inside."
- The game took two hours, 17 minutes, and ended at 9:23 p.m.
- Avila became the third Tigers catcher to triple twice in a game since 1919, joining Brad Ausmus (1999) and Lance Parrish (1980). No major league catcher has hit three triples in a game in that span.
- Ryan Raburn went 0 for 3 for Detroit, and is hitting .216 since Leyland said he was giving him a "new season" by moving him to second base in late May.
- Seattle's starting rotation came in with the second-worst run support in the majors, leading only San Diego, and Fister only got one run in his eight innings.
- Seattle's Miguel Olivo went 0 for 4 in the cleanup spot, striking out all four times.