Twins 2, Tigers 1: Phil Hughes tops Justin Verlander in pitcher's duel

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander was touched for two seventh innings runs, which was enough run support for the Twins' Phil Hughes. Hughes continued his 2014 mastery over Detroit with seven shutout innings.

The Detroit Tigers dropped their series opener to the Minnesota Twins 2-1, Phil Hughes out-pitching Justin Verlander. It was the Tigers' second straight loss, equaling their longest losing streak of the season.

Hughes dominated the Tigers for the second time in this season,  tossing seven shutout innings in a very efficient 86 pitches, scattering eight hits. Casey Fein and Glen Perkins pitched the final two innings, Perkins earning his ninth save despite allowing the Tigers' only run.

"I wish I knew. It was like an invisiball." -Alex Avila trying to explain Phil Hughes' effectiveness

Justin Verlander went pitch for pitch with Hughes, shutting out the Twins over six innings. Minnesota got to the Tigers' ace for a pair of two out runs in the seventh, dooming Verlander to suffer his second loss.

The Tigers had plenty of base runners, but couldn't string hits together. Alex Avila drove in the Tigers' only run with a ninth inning double. Austin Jackson had three hits, scoring the only Detroit run.

The Twins were out-hit by the Tigers 10-9, but only needed one hit to do all their damage Kurt Suzuki's base loaded single in the seventh accounted for all the Twins' scoring. Suzuki had two hits on the night, Chad Parmelee adding a pair of singles and scored a run.

With the loss, the Tigers' MLB best record falls to 20-11, .645, their lead in the AL Central at four games over the White Sox. Their losing streak has reached two games, which ties their longest such streak of the season. It's been well over three weeks since the Tigers' last losing streak (such as it was), dropping a pair back on April 13-16.

When your longest losing streak is a mere two games and you haven't lost two straight in nearly a month? Things are going pretty damn good, even if the bats have been quiet for three straight games.

The game began 27 minutes late thanks to the Weather Gods still having issues with the Tigers.

The game was taking shape as a pitcher's duel from the get-go. Both Justin Verlander and Phil Hughes retired the side in order in the first.

Verlander got into a bit of trouble in the second, allowing a pair of one out singles. But he was just toying with the Twins, Chris Parmelee popping up and Aaron hicks striking out.

The Tigers had just one base runner through two innings, Nick Castellanos singling with two down in the second.

The Twins again kicked up their heels in the third. Brian Dozier and Kurt Suzuki reached via back-to-back singles. Trevor Plouffe then ripped a line shot toward left which had RBI double written all over it. But Leapin' Nick Castellanos robbed Plouffe of extra bases by using every inch of his vertical to grab the line shot for the second out (MLB.com video).

Castellanos would end the inning when Chris Colabello bounced to third, giving the Tigers' rookie his fourth assist of the game (along with the put out).

Bottom of three and one out, Rajai Davis was running hard right out of the box, turning a single to right center into a leg double. He advanced to third on a fly ball, but was stranded when Torii Hunter bounced out to short.

The game had become a true pitcher's duel.

The Tigers threatened in the bottom of the fourth, but couldn't get a run across the plate despite three hits. A double play off the bat of Victor Martinez eliminated Miguel Cabrera off the base paths and all but nipped a rally in the bud. Austin Jackson and the Twins' fan base new most hated player, Castellanos, followed up with singles. But Alex Avila struck out, ending another scoreless inning.

Bottom of five, Hughes had barely broken a sweat thanks to a pitch count of 49. Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter made him work a little with two out singles, extending the inning for Cabrera. But the big man couldn't come through with a two out RBI, flying out to center.

The pitcher's duel reached the sixth, then the seventh, neither team able to get anything going offensively.

As Verlander's pitch count crossed the 100 pitch mark, the Twins threatened.  Parmelee singled with one out, Danny Santana with two down. The bane of pitchers' everywhere, a two out, late game base on balls, then bit Verlander. He walked Brian Dozier, loading the bases for Kurt Suzuki.

"Pretty good first six, not a good seventh." -Justin Verlander

The groan at Comerica Park could be heard all throughout SE MI when Suzuki slapped a ground ball through the box and into center. Two runs scored on the single, the Twins finally breaking the ice with a 2-0 lead. The way Hguhes was dominating the Tigers' bats, two runs may just as well been ten.

Verlander got his inning ending strikeout one batter too late. The Tigers now down a pair, their bats needed to wake up soon against Hughes, or it would be...you guessed it...too late.

The slumber didn't end in the seventh, the Tigers again going down 1-2-3 versus Cy Hughes.

Verlander deserved better, but he night was over after 114 pitches. Al Alburquerque answered the bell for the eighth. walking one and striking out a pair before giving way to Ian Krol. Krol allowed a two out single before striking out Hicks to strand a pair.

To sum up the bottom of the eighth takes less than 140 characters.

Evan Reed wrapped up a scoreless top of the ninth. The Tigers were still down 2-0 with three outs left, and facing Twins' closer Glen Perkins.

As has been the Tigers' M.O. over the years, they didn't go down easily with the game on the line. Jackson led off by lashing a double down the left field line. One out, Jason Kubel couldn't make a leaping catch on Avlia's line shot to left. The ball glanced off his glove and off the fence for an RBI double.

Brad Ausmus was looking for offense off the bench, pinch-hitting Andrew Romine with J.D. Martinez. There would be no late game magic tonight.

Martinez took some HUGE cuts (trying to hit a game-winner when a single would have tied it?) before popping up for the second out. Rajai Davis then struck out to end the game, Perkins earning a not-so-easy save by stranding the tying run on second.

Game over. Your final score is Twins 2, Tigers 1.

Game two of the series is an afternoon tilt, Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson (3-2, 3.50 ERA) facing Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.72 ERA).

Gibson hasn't won a game since April 17, but is coming off his best start of 2014. In a Twins' 1-0 victory over the Indians, giving up just two hits while striking out only one and walking three. Gibsons threw seven innings, but a lack of run support led to a no-decision.

Scherzer has won four consecutive decisions, and has been lights out over the past two. He hasn't allowed a run since April 24, tossing 14 shutout innings over two games, striking out 16.

First pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 1:08 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

Are we doomed? ZUBAZ ARE TAKING OVER.

In the ninth inning, fire alarms were going off somewhere within Comerica Park.

Streaks come and streaks go. There were a few.of both.

  • Ausitn Jackson's on base streak reached 17 games with his fourth inning single.
  • The Tigers lost two straight games for the first time since April 13-16.
  • Victor Martinez's hitting streak was snapped after 11 games.

THREE ROARS:

Justin Verlander: Deserved a far better fate than his second loss of the season. I'll take two runs over seven innings every damn time.

Austin Jackson: The only Tiger to have figured out Twins' pitching was Jackson, who is now hitting .305 after a three hit night.

Nick Castellanos: Two hits, solid defense and one put out which will make the highlight reels.

BONUS ROAR:

Alex Avila: Gave the Tigers hope with a big ninth inning RBI double, along with playing his usual excellent defense.

THREE HISSES:

The Tigers' offense: Runs scored have continued to decline in their last three games - 3, 2, and now 1. Phil Hughes shouldn't shut you down like he's the next coming of Christy Mathewson.

The Twins: They are despicable, even when they are an under .500 team.

Losing streaks: They happen in baseball, usually after long winning streaks.

ROLL CALL:

Total comments 645
Total commenters 37
Commenter list Alex Baker, Bent82, BigAl, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, Eric @ PRBU, Fielder'sChoice, JWurm, J_the_Man, JohnnyWockenfuss, LoganB, MSUDersh, NCDee, Naysayer N San Diego, Nonsuch Ned, RealityIsOptionable, Rob Rogacki, SanDiegoMick, SpartanHT, Sturgeon Slaw, TheLegacyofJordanTata, ahtrap, bluesabriel, bowling255, dishnet34, dominator039, frisbeepilot, jgrubbs, knucklescarbone, madpoopz, mrsunshine, mtchyg, stevenyc, subic sailor, texastigerfan, tjtabin
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/5/9/5699562/game-31-tigers-vs-twins-7-08-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/5/9/5701688/game-31-overflow

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 texastigerfan 82
2 SanDiegoMick 68
3 Alex Baker 48
4 bluesabriel 42
5 DJ Screw 31
6 JohnnyWockenfuss 28
7 jgrubbs 26
8 Fielder'sChoice 23
9 SpartanHT 23
10 Rob Rogacki 22

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
3 Rob Rogacki Metal detectors
2 RealityIsOptionable I've made it to the "5000 Comment Club" at BYB.
1 Designated for Assignment Regression night. The first 20,000 fans in the park get...frustrated.
1 texastigerfan lack of runs
1 Rob Rogacki Holy hell, why is everyone bitching about Verlander allowing 2 runs in 7 innings?
1 mtchyg On purpose?
1 dominator039 time for the offense to wake up
1 Alex Baker Nick is getting higher than Josh Gordon tonight
1 NCDee Arise, Sir Loin of Beef!

GAME 30 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Victor Martinez beat Victor Martinez for PotG honors in a 6-3 loss to the Astros. Martinez batting left-handed was narrowly topped by Martinez hitting right-handed, 55%-45%.

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