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Tigers 7, White Sox 1: Justin Verlander cruises to victory

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Justin Verlander pitched out of early trouble against the White Sox, ultimately settling in to toss one of his best outings of 2014.

Brian Kersey

The Detroit Tigers rode a five run fourth inning and seven strong frames from Justin Verlander to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-1. The win gives the Tigers five wins in their last six games, pulling them within 1/2 game of the first place Kansas City Royals in the AL Central. In the wild card race, Detroit is currently up 1/2 game over the Seattle Mariners.

Verlander (W, 12-11) survived a rocky start, but ended up twirling quite possibly his best outing of the season - seven innings, one run, nine hits, eight strikeouts, two walks. Four of the hits, both walks and the only run allowed were all recorded in Verlander's first two innings. The Tigers got two scoreless inning of relief from the bullpen, wrapping up the fifth win in six games.

White Sox rookie starter Scott Carroll (L, 5-9) was roughed up by the Tigers in his five innings, serving up seven runs, (though only three were earned thanks to shoddy defense from Jose Abreu) on 10 hits, striking out just two before being pulled. Three relievers combined to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard over the final four innings, but more than enough damage had already been done.

Outhitting the White Sox 13-10, the Tigers' offense was led by the middle of the order - J.D. Martinez's three hits and two more from Victor Martinez. The four and five hitters combined on a 5-for-10, two run scored evening. Torii Hunter also chipped in with two hits and two RBI. Ian Kinsler may have had just one hit, but he drove in a pair, adding two runs scored. Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos, and Ezequiel Carrera each added to the scoring parade in with a run batted in.

Of the White Sox's ten hits, six were courtesy of Adam Eaton (3-for-4) and Abreru (3-for-3). But Chicago's lone run came off the bat of Mr. Three-True-Outcomes. Adam Dunn's first inning sacrifice fly accounted for all the White Sox's scoring.

ROARS:

Justin Verlander: Verlander looked as if he was in for a rocky outing, allowing four hits, three for doubles, two walks and a run in on 43 pitches over the first two innings. He would settle down considerably at that point, scattering five hits over the next five innings while holding the White Sox scoreless. With a doubleheader looming and a rookie starting in the nightcap, Verlander needed to go deep tonight. He did just that, giving the Tigers seven innings.

J.D. Martinez: In the words of Rod Allen, Martinez "had his hittin' shoes on tonight" with three hits in his first three at-bats. Having recovered from a post-break slump, Martinez is raking in August and hitting .313/.354/.557 on the season.

Ezequiel Carrera: Reached base three times, had two hits, a run scored and a stolen base.

Ian Kinsler: Just one hit, but scored twice and drove in two more.

Jim Johnson: Took over for Verlander in the eighth, needed just seven pitches to get out of the inning.

Al Alburquerque: Asked to clean up after Pat McCoy put a pair of runners on base in the ninth, Alburquerque retired both batters he faced to lock down the win.

Jose Abreu's glove: The slugger's two errors played a huge role in the Tigers' breakthrough fourth inning, making four of the five runs unearned.

HISSES:

Miguel Cabrera's ankle: In the first inning it was obvious Miguel Cabrera was trying to play through a great deal of pain while in the field. Adam Eaton on first, Justin Verlander threw away a pick off attempt. Cabrera half jogged, half limped after the runaway ball, allowing Eaton to advance all the way to third, setting up the White Sox to take a 1-0 lead. Why Cabrera and Victor Martinez haven't switched positions is a question only Brad Ausmus can answer.

The question was asked again in the fifth when Cabrera was visibly in pain, lingering on the infield dirt after diving for a ground ball.

And we got an answer!

The ankle is affecting Cabrera at the plate as well, as evidenced by his 0-for-5 night. He was the only Tiger to go hitless.

Pat McCoy: Brad Ausmus was forced to go to Al Alburquerque in the ninth after McCoy put two on base with one out. Not a good sign in regard to your big league longevity when you're unceremoniously yanked with a six run lead.

Robin Ventura: Just because.

NOTES:

Alejandro De Aza ran the White Sox out of the second inning when he attempted to stretch a clean double into a triple.  Ian Kinsler's on-target relay off Torii Hunter's throw nailed De Aza. That ill-advised adventure on the bases cost the White Sox a run when Eaton doubled, which would have easily plated De Aza.

Two errors by Jose "Hands of stone" Abreu helped the Tigers score five runs in the fourth inning. Victor Martinez led off the frame with a ground ball Abreru couldn't handle off the short hop, kicking off a big rally. The third run off the inning scored when Abreu butchered Ezequiel Carrera's high chopper, allowing Alex Avila to cross the plate. Eugenio Saurez and Carerra also pulled off a double steal of second and third as part of the five run, four hit rally.

Meanwhile, in Chicago...

STREAKS AND STATS:

J.D. Martinez is one of the few Tigers who has consistently hit the ball over the past three weeks, .320/.354/.493 since August 8. He had a six game hitting streak snapped Thursday afternoon, but immediately began another when he singled for the Tigers' first hit of the game in the second inning. Martinez would end his night with three hits.

The Tigers sent nine to the plate in the fourth,  scoring five runs in the process. The Tigers have now scored five-or-more runs in an inning 18 times this season, the most in the majors.

Hovering around .550 since late May, Miguel Cabrera's slugging percentage has been dropping steadily this month. Having gone hitless in his last two games and homering just once this month, Cabrera's is now slugging less than .500, at.491 on the season. As a point of reference, Cabrera's average slugging percentage over the past four seasons is .612.

Nick Castellanos' eighth inning double extended his hitting streak to eight games.

In giving up just one earned run in seven innings, it's the lowest run total Justin Verlander has allowed this season since he shutout the Indians over five innings April 17. Eight strikeouts equaled his season high.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

ROLL CALL:

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