With those Opening Day jitters out of his system, Justin Verlander seemed to exhale and gave the Detroit Tigers a fifth straight solid pitching performance. Showing good stuff (while perhaps reigning it in just a bit), he struck out eight Texas batters in just five innings, and allowed just two hits. Though Verlander seemed to have better mechanics and control than on Monday, he did allow four walks, one of which came around to score. But overall, it was a nice rebound after a bad first start in Toronto.
And maybe this is more an indictment of the Cleveland Indians' pitching staff, but it warrants mentioning again that this Rangers team swaggered into Comerica Park having scored 29 runs in its first three games. Tigers pitching held them to two hits today. And if not for two errors in the fifth inning, Texas would've scored only one run.
Detroit's bullpen has been taking a lot of abuse since the first two games of the season, but since then, it's performed pretty well. And in a tight game today, four Tigers relievers played a major role in the winning outcome.
Nate Robertson took over for Verlander in the sixth, pitching two perfect innings. And since the Tigers took the lead for good in that sixth inning, he got the win. You know what that means: If we rip Nate when he's terrible, we must praise when he's good.
I was worried Ryan Perry might earn a day in Jim Leyland's doghouse after two walks yesterday. But once Bobby Seay got the first outs in the eighth inning (both left-handed hitters), Perry was called in to face Nelson Cruz, who's already hit three home runs this season. I don't know if Leyland was afraid what might happen if Cruz made contact with one of Brandon Lyon's pitches, and preferred some strikeout capability, or if Lyon has to earn his way back into the circle of trust. Regardless, Perry got Cruz out in two pitches, getting him to pop up to first base on a 96 m.p.h. fastball.
And Fernando Rodney might be showing some promise as a closer. In his first save opportunity of the season, he struck out the side. When's the last time a Tigers pitcher did that in the ninth inning (let alone get three straight outs)?
As mentioned above, Texas probably would've scored only one run, if not for errors by Brandon Inge and Adam Everett in the fifth inning. And both occurred what should've been relatively easy throws to second base. Those misplays also cost Verlander a win when he pitched well enough to earn one.
Comment of the Day:
Apologies to everyone who showed up for the GameThread on a pleasant spring Saturday afternoon (and we had another fine turnout), but I thought you might enjoy this remark from SB Nation's Rangers blog, Lone Star Ball:
I'd like to see if there is some way the Rangers could avoid playing in Detroit for the next 5 years or so.
Only six games have been played so far, but as mentioned in the comments, the Tigers didn't reach .500 until June 28 last year, 80 games into the season.