DETROIT -- Justin Verlander finally got some run support and came oh, so close to a complete game. The Detroit Tigers' ace kept the Kansas City Royals from running away with a win and the offense came through in the late innings. It nearly wasn't enough because of the bullpen. However, the Tigers went on to win 5-4 in walkoff fashion in the 12th over the Royals.
Verlander was Verlandering. The Tigers' offense couldn't quite get to Johnny Cueto, despite his recent struggles. Gotta give them credit, though, they were able to push a run across in the first before Cueto settled down. And on a night when it was a pitcher's duel between Verlander and Cueto, every run became crucial.
Once again Verlander was lights-out and he nearly gave the Tigers his second complete game of the season, but unfortunately he got yanked with one out to go after a two-out single. Even if the Tigers offense was silent for much of the night. That was until the eighth, when the offense finally put together some hits and a little bit of luck.
The Tigers got two hits to start the innings then Cabrera knocked a sac fly that Victor Martinez followed with a sac fly of his own. You'd think with Verlander being as dominant as he was, this game would be tucked away and secured. But no, you would be mistaken. The bullpen must play a part, and on Friday night it was courtesy of Alex Wilson, who gave up the game-tying runs in the ninth. It took 12 innings, a bases-loaded, game-tying walk in the 12th, and a walkoff hit by Dixon Machado to get it done.
As unpopular as this may be, it's not crazy to pull a guy who's at 114 pitches and had just given up a two-out single. Salvador Perez has been a .488/.465/.805 lifetime hitter against Verlander across 43 plate appearances entering the game. It wasn't a bad move by Ausmus. With that said, Verlander had allowed just five hits -- and only one extra-base knock. Allowing him to face just one more batter ... well, you could go either way. In this case, I don't blame Ausmus for the decision.
Justin Verlander: Kept the Royals to just one run and four hits across 8 2/3 innings. He was #MustSeeJV on Friday night. He finished with 114 pitches and allowed just two runs on five hits -- though one of those runs was charged because of a home run allowed by Alex Wilson.
Miguel Cabrera: Had a pair of hits, including a ripped RBI double to put the Tigers on the board first. He also drew a walk in the third inning, drove in the go-ahead run (at the time) in the eighth on a sac fly, and a solid single in the 12th inning.
Tyler Collins/Dixon Machado: Machado entered the game in extras but got the winning hit after the offense loaded the bases, and Tyler Collins forced in the tying run on a walk.
Tigers offense: For all the hits they accrued, the Tigers had just the one run to show for it through seven innings. They threatened in the third with a two-on, one out situation but couldn't plate a runner.
Dave Clark: If this had been a player who could run faster, said player might've scored. Instead, it was Cabrera and he was out by a mile at home. Clark sent him anyway on a shallow bloop into center field and Perez was actually waiting for Cabrera to get home to apply the tag.
Alex Wilson: Gave up the game-tying runs to Salvador Perez on a two-run shot to left field in the ninth.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Miguel Cabrera's double in the first was his 34th of the season, tied with Ian Kinsler for the most on the team. He later took the lead with his second double in the 12th. His walk in the third was also his 71st of the year, tied for fifth-most in the AL.
- Cabrera's sac fly in the eighth was just his second of the season. Last year he had 11.
- In his last 11 starts, Justin Verlander has a 2.13 ERA with just 19 earned runs allowed across 80 1/3 innings pitched.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: