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Tigers 6, Cardinals 3: Detroit jumps out early, holds on for win

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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE


Final - 6.19.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
St. Louis Cardinals 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 3 5 0
Detroit Tigers 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 0 X 6 12 1
WP: Justin Verlander (7 - 4)
SV: Phil Coke (1)
LP: Lance Lynn (10 - 3)

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The Tigers haven't won three games in a row this season since, well, it feels like forever. It's actually less than a month: May 25-27 in a sweep of the Twins. But with Justin Verlander on the mound, you had to feel pretty good about their chances (even when acknowledging that his opponent, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, is in the midst of a heck of a season).

Detroit jumped out to a four-run lead after just two innings, then held on for the 6-3 victory after a late rally by St. Louis. Tigers closer Jose Valverde was apparently injured while warming up in the eighth inning. (more on that.)

Getting to Lynn early was the key. Miguel Cabrera doubled in the first, then was later driven in when Delmon Young singled. In the second, Brennan Boesch, Jhonny Peralta and Ramon Santiago loaded the bases to open the frame. An out later, Austin Jackson doubled in a pair of runs, then Quintin Berry got another in with a groundout.

The lineup was pretty good overall. It got two two-out RBI in. It went 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position. And hey, every starter but one got a hit.

You had to figure Verlander could protect the early lead. He mostly did -- though he did seem to hit a bit of a wall in both the sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth, a pair of singles put runners on the corner with an out. A hard hit to Prince Fielder hinted at the possibility of a double play, but without cleanly fielding the ball he could get only one, allowing the run to score.

In the seventh, Verlander lost his control a bit. Two of the first five batters walked, with a pair of outs and a single in the middle. It looked like Detroit would escape safely, but Quintin Berry was unable to hold onto a ball that hit him in the glove in left field. Two runs scored, and Detroit's lead was cut to 6-3. JV then walked the next batter -- his third of the inning and the day -- but finished his day by striking out Allen Craig.

The bullpen preserved that score, however. Joaquin Benoit had a perfect eighth, Phil Coke a clean ninth, and it was over.

It was good to see the Tigers get to Lynn in the game. Although, not unexpected, I guess. After all, he came into the game with pretty stellar numbers. It seems like the players with an ERA of 6 cruise against Detroit while the solid starters falter. It probably isn't as cut and dry as it feels, but the generalization has come about for a reason.

Detroit has improved to 8-3 in the last 11, helping get the team to just a game under .500. (Yeah, yeah, "just a game under .500" wasn't exactly what we were hoping for a couple of months ago. But after the first two months of the season, we have to be happy to see the team finally playing like we expected -- even if it is against NL competition.)

With the win, the Tigers have an opportunity to pick up a game against the White Sox but the Indians won 3-2 in a 10th-inning walkoff so the Tigers can get no closer than 2 games out of first.

Update: The White Sox lost to the Cubs (2-1), so the Tigers are 2 games out of first-place (Cleveland).

3 ROARS

Justin Verlander - I can't fault him for 3 runs.

Delmon Young - 2-for-4, 2 RBI (one of those with 2 outs)

Miguel Cabrera - 2-for-4, walk, double, RBI, run.

3 HISSES

Injury bug -- LEAVE US ALONE

Quintin Berry -- That dropped ball wasn't an automatic out, but it did hit him in the glove

Prince Fielder - Just picking nits here. He was 0-for-3.

Game 66 POG

Max Scherzer had a great start and won the vote