Verlander (4-4) was roughed up for the second consecutive start, the Rangers pounding him for eight hits while walking three, allowing the eight runs, including seven of those in what was a brutal third inning.
Yu Darvish (7-1) didn't pitch up to his usual standards early on, allowing four runs in the first four innings. But Darvish got stronger as the game proceeded, picking up the victory by tossing eight innings and 130 pitches.
The Rangers got to Verlander for a run in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead. The fear being one run may just be enough if Darvish is on his game. Turned out neither pitcher had their best stuff in the early innings. Only one would survive them.
Ian Kinsler led off with a single to right. Elvis Andrus snuck a single past a diving Omar Infante into center, Kinsler raced to third, his head first slide more like a head first face plant. Lance Berkman drove in Kinsler by grounding into a 4-6 fielder's choice.
Darvish did look to be on his game, until he faced Donnie Baseball.
The only base runner Darvish allowed in two innings was Alex Avila, who bounced a single through the right side with two down in the second. But leading off the third, Don Kelly yanked a 3-1 breaking ball ten rows deep in the right field seats. Kelly's first home run of the season tied the game at 1-all. (MLB.com video) Baseball really is a funny damn game.
Kelly waking the bats from their two inning slumber, Infante and Andy Dirks followed with back-to-back singles. Infante would advance to third on a wild pitch, then score on Torii Hunter's sacrifice fly. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Tigers we up 2-1.
Still just one out, Miguel Cabrera riped a line double to left, Dirks being held at third. Ron Washington elected to give Prince Fielder an intentional pass, loading the bases in order to pitch to Victor Martinez.
Martinez and Darvish had an epic battle. Martinez fouled off several two strike pitches to stay alive and drive up Darvish's pitch count. On pitch 11 of a loooong at bat, Martinez won the battle with a sacrifice fly to center, Dirks scoring the third run of the inning.
Darvish would need 36 pitches to get out the third, the Tigers sending eight me to the plate. Four hits, two sacrifice flies, and a wild pitch later, the Tigers had themselves a 3-1 lead.
But the bottom half of the inning started as a carbon copy of the first. Both David Murphy and Leonys Martin took Verlander back up the middle for singles. Martin stole second to give the Rangers runners a pair of runners in scoring position with no one out.
Verlander let a breaking ball get away from him (as he did the game), plunking Kinsler on the arm, loading the bases.
Verlander went to a 3-1 count on Andrus, hitting the high 90's with his fastball, but struggling, as he did last week with location. Unable to locate the strike zone, Verlander walked Andrus, driving home the Rangers' second run of the game.
Facing Berkman, Verlander got a little lucky when he crossed up Avila. Berkman struck out on a neck high fastball which soared all the way to the backstop, then ricocheted right back to Avila, the runners unable to advance. Weirdness was ensuing.
A visibly frustrated Verlander walked in the second run of the inning, flinging four straight balls to Adrian Beltre. The velocity was fine, the command far from it.
Pitching coach Jeff Jones visited Verlander in hopes of, well, doing something. . Whatever Jones said, worked ... for one batter. Toning down the velocity, Verlander struck out Nelson Cruz. But Moreland laced a two out double to right, two runs scoring to make it 5-3 Rangers.
The inning went from awful to outright nightmare when the light hitting (.170 on the season) Soto ripped a three run homer to left, his first of the season. Unable to get out of the third inning, Jim Leyland had no choice but to pull his ace even earlier than his did in his last start, after 2 2/3 innings.
Game (essentially) over.
Darin Downs would get the Tigers out of the inning, but the damage done was strange, confusing and scary. Verlander threw 39 pitches in the third, the Rangers scoring seven times.
The Verlander shock having semi-worn off, Jhonny Peralta got one of the runs back in the top of the fourth with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot making it an 8-4 game. But that would be it for the Tigers, as Darvish started mowing down batters.
The Rangers got the run back in the fifth, Moreland's big night continuing with an RBI double off Downs to stretch the lead to 9-4.
After Martin singled with one out in the sixth, Leyland made the call for the newest Tiger, Evan Reed, His major league debut inning was a good one, retiring both Rangers he faced to end the inning.
Reed's second inning didn't go as well. Nelson Cruz took Reed deep with two out in the seventh,his 11th home run pushing the Rangers lead to 10-4. Reed would finish the game for the Tigers, allowing the the one run in 2 2/3 innings.
The game all but over, it had become the Yu Darvish show.
The Rangers' ace settled down after his slow start and pitched deep into the game. He was dominant late, retiring the Tigers in order from the sixth through eighth inning. As to why Washington let Darvish throw a career high 130 pitches in a blowout victory is another thing altogether.
Cory Burns would wrap it up for the Rangers, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth. The Tigers were only able to muster only one base runner (Avila walked in the ninth) after the fifth inning.
(Thank goodness it was) Game over. The final was Rangers 10, Tigers 4.
It was just one of those nights. Best to forget it and move on.
The loss drops the Tigers to 22-17 on the season, falling into a first place tie in the Central with the Indians. The 26-14 Rangers maintain their 6 1/2 game lead in the West over the under .500 Mariners.
In game two of the weekend series, the Tigers try to bounce back behind Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.68 ERA), who takes on the Rangers' Nick Tepesch (3-3, 4.03 ERA). First pitch is 8:05 PM.