It wasn't easy, and at this point, maybe no win's going to be pretty for the Detroit Tigers. But after a bad loss last night in the series opener, the Tigers rebounded to get what felt like a much needed win. A Justin Verlander-Bruce Chen pitching matchup isn't the sort that this team should be losing. And given how the lineup has struggled to score runs lately, any output exceeding five runs can't be wasted, either.
Maybe this one didn't go quite as expected, with Verlander giving up five runs (though only three of those were earned, thanks to errors by Gerald Laird and Brandon Inge). But the Tigers' ace was otherwise outstanding, racking up 11 strikeouts (tied for his second-highest total of the season) and allowing no walks. (Billfer pointed out on Twitter that it's been 21 years since a Tigers pitcher threw at least 10 strikeouts while walking no one.)
86 of Verlander's 114 pitches were thrown for strikes, and though he made a handful of mistakes that the Royals pounded for extra-base hits, the Tigers' offense (carried by home runs from Miguel Cabrera, Placido Polanco, and Marcus Thames) made sure that his effort wasn't wasted. That in itself felt like a victory.
Detroit's batting order looks so much better when someone's swinging a big stick in the cleanup spot. After slumping during the Tigers' latest road trip (likely due to a touch of the flu, according to Rod Allen), Thames is bringing the thunder again. He smacked a home run for the second consecutive night (and third in his last four games), this one a three-run shot that blew the game open (albeit temporarily) with a 7-3 lead.
And any time the Tigers get a home run from Polanco, that has to be considered a sweet bonus. His two-run homer in the third inning tied the game at 3-3, and a RBI single in the fifth gave Detroit the lead for good. For the night, Polanco went 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
Comment of the Night:
we squander leads
But we have to give allikazoo the runner-up for nabbing a screen shot of Mario Impemba and Rod Allen appropriately photoshopped for Elvis Night at Comerica Park: