|Detroit (65-57) «||0||0||2||0||3||2||0||0||x||7||15||0|
Verlander allowed one run over 7 2/3 innings to become baseball's first 18-game winner, and the first-place Tigers breezed to an easy 7-1 victory against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. Verlander labored through a 29-pitch first inning but settled down after that, allowing seven hits in another impressive outing.
"Every win's important for us right now," the Detroit ace said.
|More on Twins at Tigers|
Detroit extended its lead in the AL Central to three games on the Cleveland Indians, who lost in 14 innings early Wednesday morning.
The Tigers had lost their two previous games, and their previous eight victories had been by one run, but there wasn't much to sweat out on this night -- especially with Verlander on the mound.
"He's a tough cookie. That's why he's about to win the Cy Young," Minnesota outfielder Ben Revere said. "When he's going like that, with that lineup, you don't have a chance. You have to figure on scoring five or six runs to beat them -- tonight, it would have been eight -- and that's not going to happen against him."
Verlander (18-5) struck out eight to surpass 200 on the year, walked one and lowered his ERA to 2.31.
"That sort of stuff's for the end of the season to look back at," Verlander said. "Not right now. Right now it's a time to focus on my next start -- or get ready tomorrow for us to go out there and win another baseball game."
Nick Blackburn (7-10) allowed five runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Minnesota slugger Jim Thome was out of the starting lineup Tuesday, one night after hitting two home runs to reach 600 for his career. He did pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth, drawing a standing ovation from the Detroit crowd. That reception then morphed almost seamlessly into a celebration when Thome struck out to end the game.
Verlander's 200th strikeout of the season came in the sixth, when Morneau watched a breaking ball drop toward the outside corner, then slowly walked back to the dugout looking like he was about to roll his eyes.
"He pitched great," Cabrera said. "Every time he goes out there, you can see he always goes seven innings."
Verlander struck out two more Twins to start the seventh and another two in the eighth, getting former MVP Joe Mauer swinging on a breaking ball that dropped wickedly as it reached the plate. Morneau finally managed an RBI single that inning, chasing Verlander from the game. The tall right-hander received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd before he even left the mound, and he acknowledged the fans on his way to the dugout with a wave of his left hand.
Santiago led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer that made it 6-0, and Cabrera, who extended his hitting streak to 14 games, added an RBI single.
|Justin Verlander acknowledges the Motor City faithful after another stellar pitching performance. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Ben Revere, CF||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.252|
|Trevor Plouffe, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.207|
|Joe Mauer, DH||3||0||2||0||1||1||2||.283|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||4||0||1||1||0||1||4||.223|
|Jason Kubel, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||5||.298|
|Danny Valencia, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||2||0||.244|
|Rene Tosoni, LF||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.197|
|Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.218|
|Drew Butera, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.167|
|a- Jim Thome, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.253|
|a-struck out for Butera in the 9th|
|2B - Danny Valencia (22, Verlander)|
|RBI - Justin Morneau (23)|
|2-OUT RBI - Justin Morneau (13)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Outfield Assists - Jason Kubel 1, Ben Revere 1|
|DP - Blackburn-Nishioka-Morneau, Nishioka-Morneau|
|PB - Drew Butera (5)|
|Nick Blackburn (L,7-10)||4.2||11||5||5||2||1||0||4.53|
|WP - Nick Blackburn (5)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 96-60, Phil Dumatrait 9-3, Anthony Swarzak 27-16, Jose Mijares 11-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 9-2, Phil Dumatrait 2-0, Jose Mijares 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 25, Phil Dumatrait 4, Anthony Swarzak 6, Jose Mijares 4|
|Austin Jackson, CF||3||0||2||0||2||0||0||.245|
|Brennan Boesch, RF||5||3||1||0||0||0||3||.283|
|Delmon Young, LF||5||1||2||0||0||0||2||.271|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||3||1||2||3||1||1||1||.323|
|Victor Martinez, DH||4||1||1||1||0||0||1||.321|
|Alex Avila, C||2||0||2||1||2||0||0||.299|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||0||2||1||0||1||1||.308|
|Don Kelly, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||4||.235|
|Ramon Santiago, 2B||4||1||2||1||0||0||1||.244|
|2B - Brennan Boesch (25, Blackburn), Ramon Santiago (7, Mijares)|
|HR - Ramon Santiago (3, Dumatrait)|
|RBI - Miguel Cabrera 3 (78), Victor Martinez (67), Alex Avila (58), Jhonny Peralta (63), Ramon Santiago (14)|
|2-OUT RBI - Miguel Cabrera 3 (32), Victor Martinez (29), Alex Avila (20), Jhonny Peralta (22)|
|CS - Alex Avila (1, 2nd base by Blackburn/Butera)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Justin Verlander (W,18-5)||7.2||7||1||1||1||8||0||2.31|
|WP - Justin Verlander (6)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 121-81, Phil Coke 1-1, Joaquin Benoit 19-9|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 5-10, Joaquin Benoit 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 31, Phil Coke 1, Joaquin Benoit 4|
|Attendance - 40589|
|Game Time - 2:52|
|Temperature - 80|
|Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Tom Hallion, Third Base - Bill Miller|