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Tigers 4, Orioles 0: Justin Verlander shrugs off All-Star Game struggles, leads Tigers to series win

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July 15, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
July 15, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE


Final - 7.15.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Detroit Tigers 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 4 9 0
Baltimore Orioles 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
WP: Justin Verlander (10 - 5)
LP: Miguel Gonzalez (1 - 1)

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Justin Verlander shrugged off his All-Star Game controversies, shutting down the Baltimore Orioles in a 4-0 Detroit Tigers victory. Verlander (10-5) pitched 8 shutout innings to earn his 10th victory of the season. Rookie starter Miguel Gonzalez suffered his first career loss, allowing 3 runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera had solo home runs for the Tigers, Brennan Boesch chipping in with a pair of hits. The Orioles only had 4 hits, 3 of them off the bat of Tiger Killer Jim Thome.

Austin Jackson washed out the sour taste of Saturday's 13th inning implosion almost immediately, smoking Gonzalez's 2nd pitch of the game over the wall in right center. Jackson opposite field lead off shot was his 10th home run of the season.

Boesch's bat is slowly coming alive. He just missed an opposite field home run by inches in the top of the 2nd, settling for a double instead. He rode home on the bloop single of another streaking Tiger, Jhonny Peralta, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

The Tigers extended their lead to 3-0 in the 6th. Fielder walked with 1 out, advancing to 2nd on Boesch's Texas league single. Here's where baseball proves to be a funny game. Peralta crushed a liner to left, but the ball was hit straight to Nick Markakis for the 2nd out. So Alex Avila gets the run home on a ground ball in the hole between 1st and 2nd, narrowly past a diving Robert Andino.

While the Tigers nickle and dimed the Orioles, Verlander was, well, Verlander. After Jim Thome's 3rd inning double, the Tigers' ace retired 12 consecutive Orioles. Mark Reynolds broke the streak with a 2 out single in the 7th. No harm was done, as Verlander struck out last night's hero, Taylor Teagarden, on an absolutely filthy breaking ball. Teagarden just stood there, slackjawed.

Verlander was dominant in the 8th, striking out a pair of Orioles. He ended the inning at 117 pitches, on what was a steamy, humid, miserably hot day in Baltimore. So...do you bring the freak of nature out for the 9th, or do you go with Jose Valverde? Leyland didn't listen to the fans, and started warming up the Big Potato.

While the discussion who should pitch was raging online, Cabrera made the decision to go with Papa Grande more palatable by crushing a no-doubt home run to center field, his 20th of the season. Adam Jones didn't even move, watching the ball sail far into the seats.

Hearts skipped a beat in the bottom of the 9th. Thome faced the Potato in what was now a non-save situation, lacing a hard single to right. But everyone's blood pressure dropped when Jones hit into a 5-4-3 double play. There was no further drama from the PotatoCoaster, thank goodness.

With the shutout win, the Tigers take 2 of 3 on the road to start the 2nd half. They now head home to Detroit for a huge home stand, 4 games with the Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver will not be pitching) and 3 with the 1st place Chicago White Sox. The Tigers are only 3 1/2 games out of 1st, have moved past the fading Cleveland Indians into 2nd place, and stand just 1/2 game out of the Wild Card.

Bullets:

  • Via @ESPNStatsInfo: With his lead off HR, Austin Jackson extended his run scoring streak to 12 games, the longest by a Tiger since Rocky Colavito in 1961.
  • A rookie gets no respect. Gonzalez's name was misspelled on his jersey.
  • On the radio pregame, Jim Leyland said he was starting Don Kelly in order to get the rust off him. Kelly did respond with a 5th inning double, only his 4th extra base hit of the season.
  • Bizarre stat of the day: Despite is limited playing time, Kelly is tied for the team lead with 7 at bats with the bases loaded. He's 1-7, with 2 RBI, including today's 6th inning ground out .
  • Figure this logic out. 8th inning, the Tigers have runners on 1st and 2nd, no outs. Leyland orders Ramon Santiago to sacrifice bunt, setting the table for...the under the Mendoza line hitting Don Kelly. That's why people hate sacrifice bunts, Jim. I don't care about the platoon splits. If he just had to give away an out, I would have preferred pinch hitting for Kelly with Delmon Young, then putting Ryan Raburn in right field. Honestly, anyone but Kelly.
  • Miguel Cabrera now leads the AL with 118 hits.
  • Remember when Josh Hamilton was running away with the AL RBI title? Not anymore. Cabrera trails Hamilton by only 3 ribbies, 76 to 73.
  • Andino was pulled from the game after his futile dive for Avila's RBI single with what looked to be an arm or shoulder injury.
  • Thome's only out against Verlander was LOUD. He hit a smash to Santiago, who was stationed in short right field. Sometimes the shift works.
  • If you were wondering why the Tigers didn't use Brayan Villarreal all weekend, he was...wait for it...injured. Mlive's Chis Iott reports he hurt his neck shagging flies on Friday and was unavailable for the entire series. After the game, Leyland said the injury was lingering and he was "concerned." It's not Tigers baseball unless someone is getting hurt...

Sceencap of the day:

When I saw Fielder's sliiiiiide into home, Newton's First Law of Motion came to mind: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion.

Fielder_slide_medium

3 ROARS:

Justin Verlander: 8 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 117 pitches. The All-Star Game really screwed up Verlander, huh? This was Verlander's way of telling Ron Washington he's an idiot.

Austin Jackson: A lead off home run and pair of walks. A typical game from the the Tigers' lead off man.

Miguel Cabrera: I had Boesch and his 2 hits here, but I had to add Cabrera after his monstrous 8th inning blast.

3 HISSES:

Don Kelly: 7th inning. Bases loaded. 2 out. Kelly grounds out to end the inning. 8th inning. 1 out. Runners on 2nd and 3rd. Kelly strikes out swinging.

Quintin Berry: 0-5 at the plate gets you a hiss, no matter what you did last night.

Jim Thome: Thome had 3 hits, 2 off Verlander. If the Orioles didn't have Thome in the lineup, Verlander would have taken a no-hitter into the 7th inning. Well, maybe not, but it's ridiculous how hard Thome hits the best pitcher in baseball. I love Thome...except when he's playing the Tigers.

GAME 89 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Thanks to his late game heroics, Quintin Berry took PotG honors with 75%. of the BYB vote