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Justin Verlander, Jose Valverde reach milestones as Tigers finally beat Indians

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Final - 8.11.2011 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 8 0
Cleveland Indians 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 1
WP: Justin Verlander (17 - 5)
SV: Jose Valverde (33)
LP: Fausto Carmona (5 - 12)

Complete Coverage >




BOX

KEY MILESTONES

Justin Verlander earned the 100th win of his career -- 17th of the season to lead the MLB if you like that sort of thing.

Jayson Stark on Twitter noted: Besides winning his 100th, Verlander up to five 17-win seasons by age 28. Only others to do it in last 30 yrs: Roger Clemens & Dwight Gooden

Papa Grande Jose Valverde recorded his 33rd consecutive save, passing the 32 recorded by "Willie" Hernandez in 1984.

KEY STAT

Justin Verlander, 7 innings, 3 runs, 10 strikeouts. Not a lot of stats stood out, but there's seldom a game where Verlander doesn't have the gaudy ones.

KEY PLAY

Austin Jackson dropped down a suicide squeeze bunt successfully for the game-winning run. Sure it came in the second inning, but those are always cool. Runner-up: Austin Jackson had another great catch at the wall. This actually has a video to link to.

KEY THOUGHTS

Contrary to popular opinion, this wasn't a must-win game. What are we watching, the NFL in December? It was a "I'd feel a hell of a lot better if they won" game, to be sure. But a must? No. Get your football out of my baseball. The Tigers needed this. It was probably the biggest game of the season so far in 2011. But they didn't need this, you know? There will be bigger games to come. Anyway, Justin Verlander was on the mound. So they were going to win.

Speaking of Verlander, this marked the second start he wasn't especially sharp. Fortunately that's better than most pitchers on most days. Also, fortunately, it was better than Fausto Carmona's first two innings. Those were pretty awful. Detroit scored all four runs. Then Carmona shut them down pretty well and stayed in the game through seven innings. Not an unfamiliar plot.

Jim Leyland's decision to pull Verlander after seven wasn't awful. I know, he's Verlander. But Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde are pretty good at protecting leads, too. They worked a smooth 1-2-3-4-5-6 final two frames without stress. So it was fine.

A Jim Leyland quote about holding his breath on the suicide squeeze, via CBSSports' Danny Knobler on Twitter:

"I think some people wish I would hold it for a long time."

Next time the teams meet, it will be in Detroit. Win that series 2-1 and everything is even-steven.