Detroit Tigers, 59-50, 2nd place, 1.5 back.
Too many strikeouts; way too many strikeouts. Somehow though, Justin Verlander was able to overcome his 14-strikeout performance (a career high), and put away the Yankees, the 9th consecutive Comerica Park win for the Tigers.
All of the strikeouts meant no complete game (he tied a career high with 132 pitches–an amazing 96 of which were strikes), and that Tiger specialty, the pitcher’s error led to 2 unearned runs, and meant no shutout, but Verlander’s performance was dominant enough–and on ESPN–and against the Yankees–that one is hearing the C-word bandied about again.
No moment probably showed how dominant Verlander was more than his 3rd strikeout of Ichiro, on which his swing was so off-balance he almost fell down. Ichiro is not what he used to be, but he is still the hardest batter to strike out in the American League (9.1% K ratio), and it’s safe to say (but harder to look up) that he has never been struck out 3 times in a game by the same pitcher before.
There was plenty of hitting to go around to back Verlander up: every starter had at least one hit (including big flies from Fielder and Cabrera); the bottom of the order came through again (5 hits, 3 RBI from the 7-9 hitters); 7 different players had RBIs.
And Austin Jackson continues to be hot, prompting him to be listed as the 5th best CF in baseball, a pretty nice ranking when you look at the other names on the list.
Tonight the Tigers go for their 6th in a row and 10th in a row at home, and look to add to their 16-14 record against AL East teams (they are the only Central club over .500).
Detroit hands the ball to Rick Porcello, the one Tiger pitcher not suffering from Too Many Strikeouts. Phil Hughes himself may be feeling a bit at home in Detroit: he has only given up 1 run in his last 22 innings at Comerica.
Toledo Forecast: Heat. Bruce Rondon of the 100 mph fastball was promoted to Toledo yesterday, joining Al Alburquerque and his upper 90s fastball.
Stat of the Day: When Omar Infante stole 2nd base Saturday against Cleveland, Detroit recorded its first SB by a 2B in 2012, ending its run as the last team in baseball without a stolen base from the position.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Omar Infante. With Jackson hot and Cabrera and Fielder in form, Infante’s ability to get on base/advance runners may be the key to tonight’s game.
Today’s Keeping-Omar-2nd-Even-Against-The-RHP Lineup: