DETROIT -- Justin Verlander isn't just back. He's dominant. This time, though, the Detroit Tigers offense was there to back him up, unlike his last several starts. Lead by Victor Martinez's 200th career home run and a solid day at the plate for the middle of the order, the Tigers won 7-4 over the Chicago White Sox, tying the series to close out the season between the two clubs.
It was an interesting strike zone and Verlander let the home plate umpire know it after he gave up a two-run home run to Melky Cabrera. He wasn't tossed and it seemed to be more of a simple statement that Verlander thought he'd gotten strike three already. With a 6-0 lead having been intact before the homer allowed, and another run tacked on in the bottom of the frame, Verlander didn't have much to worry about.
Considering Verlander hasn't had much to work with in the past by way of run support, having a six-run lead must have been a bit of an oddity. That Victor Martinez got the party started right off the bat in the first definitely helped -- a two-run home run. But run support or no, Verlander was on his game again, looking like his usual dominant self.
Of all innings, Verlander's seventh was also his best. Not because it was perfect, but because he got into a bind and got out of it with minimal damage. He hit 99 mph and tossed 97 and 98 mph repeatedly. He gave up three straight hits, including the RBI double to Alexei Ramirez then walked Gordon Beckham to load the bases. Yet, facing Geovany Soto, Verlander stayed at 98 mph except on one pitch -- that hit 99 -- and then struck out Soto swinging to end the half-inning and the threat.
Meanwhile, the Tigers offense tacked on a four-run frame in the third thanks to four hits separated only by an intentional walk to V-Mart, and then a groundout RBI topped off the inning. J.D. Martinez's bases-loaded ground-rule double was key, though, and it gave Detroit the lead difference they needed. And following his walkoff triple on Tuesday night, Rajai Davis had another monster day at the plate.
Justin Verlander: Verlandering doesn't necessarily mean pitching a no-hitter or a shutout. It means battling and still getting out of jams when it matters. Verlander did just that on Wednesday. He delivered seven solid innings of three-run ball on five hits, fanning Soto for the final out of the seventh to strand the bases-loaded situation and exit to a standing ovation. While he walked three, Verlander also struck out eight and only one of the walks came around to score.
Victor Martinez: Hit a 1-0 pitch that went out for a two-run home run in the first. He was also intentionally walked in the third and came around to score.
Rajai Davis: Got his 11th triple of the year in the fourth. He also singled in the first and third innings and came around to score on all three occasions.
J.D. Martinez: Drilled a two-run ground-rule double that, had it not bounced into the stands, might have cleared the bases as it was headed for the left field corner. He also walked in the first inning.
Blaine Hardy: Started out by throwing six of seven pitches for balls. He walked the first batter and then gave up an RBI double with two outs, putting the White Sox within three of the Tigers.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Victor Martinez launched the 200th home run of his career in the second inning, a two-run shot to right field. He becomes the sixth Venezuelan-born player to reach the plateau, joining teammate Miguel Cabrera and former Tigers player Magglio Ordonez.
- In his last nine games including Wednesday, Martinez is batting .385/.379/.654 with two home runs and nine RBI.
- Rajai Davis hit his 11th triple of the season in the fourth inning. His triples are third in the majors, with 11. Only Kevin Kiermaier (12) and Eddie Rosario (14) have more.
- Davis' 11 triples are the most for a Tigers player since Austin Jackson had 11 in 2011.
- The Tigers' two through five batters finished 7-for-14 with two walks, a double, and the two-run homer.
- J.D. Martinez's ground-rule double in the third marked his 97th and 98th RBI of the season, seventh-most in the AL.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: