Indians starter Justin Masterson went 7 innings to get the victory, raising his record to 2-3. Chris Perez converted saves in a all 3 games, nailing down his 16th today. Verlander went 8 full innings, only allowing 2 runs and 6 hits, but was stuck with an undeserved loss, dropping to 5-2 on the season. Shin-Soo Choo homered for the Tribe, Jose Lopez added an RBI single. The Tigers only run scored on a Miguel Cabrera ground out.
Verlander's streak of lasting 6 innings or more is now at 52 straight games, but his record after a Tigers loss since the start of last season fell to 20-4. When you have to throw near no-hitters to win games...well, there's not much you can add.
The Tribe started in stunning fashion, before anyone could even settle into their seats (what few in Cleveland who bothered to show up). Lead off man Shin-Soo Choo hit a Verlander change up as hard as you'll ever see, sending it far into the 2nd deck in right field. The long home run put the Tribe up 1-0.
In the 1st, the Tigers had 2 on with 2 out. Miguel Cabrera singled off the wall in right, Fielder followed with a single to center. But Delmon Young lined out to center, ending the threat. The squandering had begun in earnest, and never, ever stopped.
In the 2nd, Brennan Boesch led off with a double. After advancing on a ground out, he was thrown out at the plate trying to score on Jhonny Pertalta's grounder. Why Boesch didn't try to run over catcher Lou Marson, I can't tell you.
In the 3rd, the Tigers...SCORED? Quintin Berry legged out a double to left center, advanced on an ground out, then scrambled home on Cabrera's ground out. Tie game...but not for long.
The Indians didn't hit a ball hard off of Verlander, but still manged a "That freaking figures" sort of 2 out rally in the bottom of the 4th. Michael Brantley singled to shallow right, stole 2nd (teams running on Tigers' pitching is becoming a major issue), and scored on Lopez's single to right. The Indians had the lead back at 2-1, and it felt all but insurmountable.
Tom Brookens and Jim Leyland were tossed in the 5th, thanks to animatedly pointing out Masterson balked on a pitch to Andy Dirks (replays confirmed Masterson never came to a stop). They weren't going to change minds, so Brookens and Leyland completely vented their spleens. You can see the frustration mounting with this underachieving team...
The squandering continued in the 6th, Boesch walked, and Alex Avila singled. Peralta, having a horrid series at the plate, grounded into an easy 6-4-3 double play. At that point, the Tigers were 0-9 with RISP and had stranded 29 runners in the series. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.
In the 8th, Verlander showed why he's the best pitcher in the game. He pitched angry, throwing low 100 MPH heat, and struck out the side. His last 4 fastballs measured at 100, 101, 100, 102. Verlander ended his show by striking out Asdrubal Cabrera on a knee buckling breaking ball. Verlander had made a statement, hoping the the Tigers' awful offense could reply in kind.
Ramon Santiago singled with 1 out, and was left standing there as Berry struck out and Dirks weakly flew out to end another miserably played game by the Tigers. I've seen t-ball teams play with better fundamentals than the Tigers did while getting swept.
Was this series rock bottom for the Tigers? Only time will tell.