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Verlander dominant, rookies play like vets in 5-1 Tigers victory

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Final - 5.19.2010 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 0 5 10 0
Oakland Athletics 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 4 0
WP: Justin Verlander (5 - 2)
LP: Dallas Braden (4 - 4)

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The night began as a pitchers duel. The night ended as an easy win for the Tigers, thanks to an utterly dominant Justin Verlander and those crazy good rookies

Verlander and Dallas Braden both had shutouts going into the 7th inning. In the Tigers half of the 7th, the game took a turn...for the better.

The birthday boy, Brandon Inge, led off with a home run to left, finally getting the Tigers on the board. Gerald Laird followed by beating out a bunt (the only way he can get on base, as he's hitting a not-so-robust .157). After stumbling over Laird's bunt, a tiring Braden had to leave the game, reportedly due to "flu like symptoms."

That was the opening the Tigers' bats needed, and they brought the pain.

Bringing said pain were the Tigers' precocious rookies. Jim Leyland started 4 first year players against the A's. An all-rookie outfield of Casper Wells, Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, with Danny Worth manning 2nd base.

The A's summoned Michael Wuertz to take over for the ailing Braden. As has been their season long M.O., the Tigers offense proceeded to punish the A's bullpen. Once Worth set the table with a sac bunt, Jackson lined a 2 strike pitch back through the box to score Laird. Wells, a late addition to the lineup thanks to Magglio Ordonez's banged up heel, then ripped a liner into the left field gap, breaking the game wide open with a 2 run double.

In the 8th, as if to make a point, Worth finished off a 3-3 night with an RBI single.

Surprisingly, the volcanically hot Boesch went hitless, going 0-3. But his peers more than made up for it.

The 4 rookies were a combined 7-16 at the plate, with 4 RBIs and a run scored. In other words, it was a typical night at the office for the youngsters. Is there anything more we can say about the Tigers' rookies...or should I say, is there anything they can't do? They've been jaw-droppingly good all season.

Just as jaw-droppingly good was Verlander, who is now 4-1 with a 1.26 ERA over his last 5 starts. More importantly, his last 3 wins have come after Tigers losses. He's become the very definition of a stopper. Losing streaks are stopped before they start when a pitcher with Verlander's talent takes the mound every 5th day.

Save for a hiccup in the 8th, when the A's strung together 2 singles and a sac fly for their only run of the game, Verlander had his no-hit stuff. He finished the game with a flourish, still bringing the heat in a 1-2-3 9th inning, striking out Ryan Sweeney with a 96 MPH fastball.

As we've seen in the past with Verlander, when he has his best stuff, he can tend to be on the wild side. Not against the A's, as his 1 walk and 5 K's attest. Even though his pitch count was 116, it felt as if it was an effortless 116. He never appeared to be laboring, nor was there any question he was going a full 9 innings.

Verlander was that damn good, and we're that damn lucky to see him take the mound in the olde English D as he evolves into an elite starting pitcher...if he isn't there already.

Bullets!

With those damned Twins losing to the Red Sox, the Tigers moved to within 1 game of the Central division lead.

Wells had his first major league hit in the 3rd inning, a single to left. The head of the "Casper Wells belongs in Detroit" committee, Allikazoo, celebrated heartily.

Boesch's 0-3 night dropped his BA to .372. Oh noes!

I'm stunned the Tigers continue to play as well as they have, considering they are getting no offensive production from Adam Everett and Gerald Laird. As I mentioned above, Laird is down to trying to bunt his way on base, and Everett's 0-4 game dropped his average well under the Mendoza Line, at .188. Inge isn't hitting much better, ending the night at .224. Something's got to give at the bottom of the order.

I continue to be amazed by the performances of the Tigers' rookies. With Ordonez out of the lineup and Miguel Cabrera having a rare bad night at the plate, the young players carried the load. Jackson not only had another nice game at the plate, his defense continues to shore up the outfield. Boesh is...well, we've seen what he can do. Wells was considered a lock to make it to Detroit sometime this season, and we saw flashes as to why against the A's. Worth has all along carried a big league glove. If he shows he can hit even a little...Everett should start worrying about his job.

3:35 p.m. start tomorrow, folks. No rest for the weary...