Justin Verlander is back. A three-game losing streak is snapped. In what turned out to be a pitching duel between Verlander and Chris Archer, the Detroit Tigers offense scrapped together just enough run support to avoid a sweep, winning 2-1 over the Tampa Bay Rays.
To be fair, Verlander has looked like he was back for a while, but not like this. He absolutely dominated the Rays. He made one mistake, one that landed in the seats for a solo home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. And with Archer making light work of the Tigers offense for most of the game, Verlander needed to be at the top of his game.
Verlander gave up just four hits and struck out 10 batters in eight innings of work. There was only one mini-jam, a two-on threat that Verlander quickly stranded. With a 2-1 lead to start the bottom of the ninth, Joakim Soria closed it out on a 60 mph curveball that struck out Tim Beckham for the final out.
The offense was hitless against Archer until the seventh inning. Were it not for Jose Iglesias' speed, the inning might have been different, but batting in the No. 2 spot, Iglesias beat out an infield single to start a two-run inning that gave the Tigers the win. J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos drove both runs home all with two outs.
Just watching this game was impressive, though, and the highlight of the day was how great Verlander was on the mound. Fans hadn't seen a performance quite like that all year and likely the first time in the last two years Verlander has had that kind of command with all of his pitches. He knew he was good and even after giving up the homer, Verlander was consistent.
Archer, for as good as he was, giving up just three hits and striking out 11 batters, took the loss due to an error by his third baseman, Cabrera.
Justin Verlander: Eight innings, one run, no walks, 10 strikeouts. His first win of the season.
Jose Iglesias: Batting in the two-hole for just the fifth time this year, Iglesias broke up Archer's perfect game, later scoring on J.D. Martinez's single.
J.D. Martinez: Speaking of which, J.D. tied the game with a two-out knock, scoring Iglesias.
Nick Castellanos: Followed J.D. with a run of his own, plating the game-winning run for Detroit.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Justin Verlander struck out 10-or-more batters in a game for the 29th time in his career and first time since Sept. 29, 2013 at Miami against the Marlins.
- In his last four starts, Verlander has a 3.29 ERA in 27 1/3 innings pitched, striking out 23 batters and just two walks.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: