What was once a coronation for Justin Verlander's return to dominance turned into the worst loss of the Detroit Tigers' season. Verlander worked 7 2/3 dominant innings and was backed by three Tigers home runs, but the Twins scored six runs off the Tigers' bullpen in the ninth inning for a comeback 8-6 win capped by a walk-off home run from Brian Dozier.
The Tigers squandered a golden scoring opportunity in the top of the second, failing to plate any runs after having runners on second and third with no outs. They quickly made amends in the third inning, however. Yoenis Cespedes singled to lead off the frame, then Victor Martinez turned on an Ervin Santana fastball, homering to right field for a 2-0 lead.
After Verlander escaped a mini-jam in the bottom half of the third, the Tigers struck again in the fourth. Anthony Gose singled and stole second base, and Ian Kinsler walked to put two runners on with one out. Yoenis Cespedes launched a fastball into the seats in left center field for a three-run homer, then J.D. Martinez joined the party with a towering solo shot to right, his 25th home run of the season.
Verlander allowed just two hits in his first seven innings, but got into a bit of trouble in the eighth. He allowed an infield hit to Eddie Rosario, then gave up a one-out single to Kurt Suzuki. After retiring Danny Santana on a groundout, Brian Dozier poked a seeing-eye single into right field to score Rosario. Verlander exited after 116 pitches, and Bruce Rondon retired Torii Hunter on one pitch to end the threat.
The Twins managed to score a run on three hits off Rondon in the ninth before he was pulled from the game. Joakim Soria entered and allowed a walk and a hit by pitch to bring in another run. Danny Santana lined a pitch up the middle to score two runs, bringing the tying run to second base. Dozier did the Twins one better, blasting a walk-off home run to left field. Soria faced four batters and did not record an out.
Justin Brooks Verlander: 7 2/3 innings, five hits, one earned run, six strikeouts, and one walk. Verlander completely flummoxed the Twins all evening long, allowing just two hits in his first seven frames. Two of the three hits he allowed in the eighth inning were of the #TwinsHit variety, and he was still hitting his spots (and the mid-90s) well above 100 pitches. We saw vintage Verlander on the mound tonight, plain and simple.
The top of the lineup: Yoenis Cespedes, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez all homered and drove in all six runs the Tigers scored tonight. Those three and Ian Kinsler all had multi-hit games and were a combined 9-for-18. This is the type of production the Tigers need from their stars while Miguel Cabrera is on the disabled list.
Bruce Rondon and Joakim Soria: This was horrible. Rondon allowed three hits in the ninth before getting pulled, and Soria was no better. After walking light-hitting center fielder Aaron Hicks and grazing Kurt Suzuki in the shoulder with a breaking ball -- after being ahead of both hitters 0-2, mind you -- Soria imploded in the worst way possible, allowing a rocket single by Santana and Dozier's home run. These are the losses that haunt you, and Soria deserves every part of the 'L' that goes on his record tonight.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Yoenis Cespedes had three hits tonight, extending his hit streak to eight games. He is now 14-for-38 with four doubles and three home runs since moving up in the lineup on July 3.
- Victor Martinez had a pair of hits tonight, including a two-run homer in the third inning. He is now batting .341/.376/.534 in 20 games since returning from the disabled list. His batting average has improved from .216 to .271 in this stretch.
- J.D. Martinez's home run was his 25th of the season, which leads the team. He is now tied for third in baseball, and is one behind Albert Pujols for the American League lead.
- Joakim Soria has a 6.75 ERA in 13 2/3 innings since June 1.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: