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Fireworks overshadow pitching matchup; Verlander, Tigers come out on top

Justin Verlander powered the Tigers past the Angels with his pitching prowess.
Justin Verlander powered the Tigers past the Angels with his pitching prowess.

Final - 7.31.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Los Angeles Angels 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 1 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 X 3 4 1
WP: Justin Verlander (15 - 5)
SV: Jose Valverde (28)
LP: Jered Weaver (14 - 5)

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Justin Verlander, 8 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 9 K (Video from


Carlos Guillen's solo home run and reaction to it in the seventh turns out to be the game-winner, causes insanity to break loose. (Video from


OK, just to get it out of the way, some words on the late fireworks. Boys will be boys, I think they say.

I do want to point out the time line for some in the national media who didn't show up to the party until the seventh inning. Essentially, Magglio Ordonez watched for too long to see whether his third-inning home run would stay fair and Jared Weaver barked at him. Then Weaver barked at him later when Ordonez flew out. So Guillen apparently decided to show Weaver what it looks like when a batter intended to show up a pitcher. That led to more barking and a warning from the home plate umpire. Weaver then threw the ball at Alex Avila's head and got ejected. MLive has quotes from some of the involved players.

Next issue: Should Erick Aybar have bunted in the top of the eighth inning? Sure, unwritten rules of baseball and all that say no. But it was a relatively close game at the time and bunting is part of his game. Verlander took exception, and in the heat of the moment that's easy enough to understand. But it was fair for Aybar to do it. The object of the game is to win, far as I know. The Angels and Tigers are both in division-title races; LA is within 2 games of Texas tonight. Nothing wrong with them trying to win by playing their game. Now, you might want to ask if he bunted in reaction to the seventh inning fireworks. But ultimately, bunting is allowed in baseball. So, whatever. It obviously got into the Tigers' heads and rattled them a bit, leading to the Angels cutting the game to 3-2 after some mistakes.

Torii Hunter probably said it best when he told the media (via @matthewbmowery on Twitter):

It was stupid, it was all stupid. Everyone was stupid.

OK, that all said, the game was great. Drama. Oh man the drama. First the pre-game hype of the American League's two leading candidates for the Cy Young Award. Then Verlander taking a perfect game into the fourth, a no hitter into the eighth. Then the Angels rallying from a 3-0 deficit to 3-2, and getting the game-tying run in scoring position in the ninth. Add in the fireworks, the intensity, the crowd. Best game of the year, no?

Verlander now has 15 wins for the year. You know we're not big on pitching wins around these parts, but we know some Cy Young voters are still swayed by them. Plus it would be nice to have a 20-game winner in Detroit again, right?

The Indians and White Sox lost, proving no one in the division actually does want to win it. Detroit's lead is back up to 2 1/2 games on Cleveland and 4 on Chicago. It means nothing, but the last time the Tigers led by this many games on August 1 they made the playoffs.

The Tigers finished July at 13-13 and are 8-8 in the second half. They have Monday off and will host Texas for a three-game series on Tuesday. That's probably the toughest team left on Detroit's schedule this season.

It's kind of a shame the Tigers won't see the Angels again. This is why I'm in favor of the five-game series!


It might slow down a bit on Monday as we catch our breath from the trade deadline but we've already got some story ideas for Tuesday, including a glance at the Cy Young race.