Justin Verlander pitched a four-hitter, Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs and Prince Fielder hit a two-run double as the Tigers ended Minnesota's five-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory Wednesday night.
Verlander (9-5) made his case for starting in the All-Star Game, pitching his fifth complete game.
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"I watch what is going on with our team, and I knew our bullpen was beat up," he said. "I knew I needed to give us at least seven or eight innings."
He struck out seven on the seventh anniversary of his major-league debut, and took another step toward earning the starting spot in the All-Star Game.
"It would be fantastic, but I know there are some other guys out there having exceptional years," he said. "I'd like to have that on my resume, but you aren't owed anything in this game. I'm not the only guy having a good season."
Normally, a game starting at 9:31 p.m. due to rain would be a concern for a starting pitcher, but Verlander was thrilled. The temperature at the scheduled starting time was 101 degrees, but it fell to 78 after a severe thunderstorm rolled through.
"I can't imagine what it would have been like pitching tonight when it was 100 degrees," he said. "It was only in the 70s and I was sweating like crazy with the humidity."
Cabrera was the night's other star. He went 3 for 3 with 10 total bases, drove in three runs, scored three times and was intentionally walked in his other plate appearance.
"We talk about the two guys that you don't let beat you, but Fielder drove in two runs and Cabrera drove in three," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think Cabrera saw two fastballs all day, and one went over the center-field fence and the other went over the right-field fence. That's not smart pitching."
Twins starter Brian Duensing (1-5) pitched well into the fifth, but left the game after being hit on the left ankle by Alex Avila's sharp grounder. Duensing sustained a bruised left ankle, but X-rays were negative.
"It's a shame, because he was throwing the ball really well," Gardenhire said. "Luckily, nothing is broken, so we'll just take it day by day. Luckily, he's got some extra rest because of the break, and he's probably going to need it."
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first when Prince Fielder's one-out double scored Ryan Raburn and Cabrera. Detroit, though, wasted scoring chances in the third and fifth innings by hitting into inning-ending double plays.
Meanwhile, the Twins didn't get a baserunner until Denard Span's single to lead off the fourth. Chris Parmalee got Minnesota on the board with a home run off Verlander in the fifth, but Cabrera answered with a 429-foot shot into the shrubs above the center-field fence.
"It's hard to get one out to center field here, because it is so big," he said. "When you see one go into those bushes, you are like 'Thank God.' "
Cabrera added a two-run homer in the seventh off Cole De Vries, who was pressed into service as a reliever even though he was scheduled to start on Saturday in Texas. Gardenhire said after the game that he will now start Sunday.
- Span is now hitting .395 (15-38) in his career against Verlander.
- Through three games of the series, Verlander is the only starting pitcher to get through the fifth inning.
- Austin Jackson went 3 for 3 with a walk, raising his batting average to .329. "I wish he was going to Kansas City with us," Verlander said.