DETROIT -- Justin Verlander bounced back with a dominant performance at Comerica Park on Friday night. Unfortunately, the Detroit Tigers offense didn't reciprocate the favor, and a fantastic outing was spoiled. Two home runs surrendered were enough to hand the Cleveland Indians a 2-1 win, but it was more the fault of the offense than the pitching.
A wicked fastball kept the Indians hitters off-balance. Verlander faced a high pitch count due to those strikeouts, and the Indians capitalized on making him work to earn them. However, his fastball had a bite to it and with the exception of Carlos Santana and Marlon Byrd home runs, the Tribe offense couldn't catch up. Santana got to Verlander twice, but only one hit affected the score, a leadoff home run in the first.
Despite his command, Verlander received next to no help from his offense. The Tigers' bats were ice cold against Josh Tomlin and after five innings he was no worse for the wear. It wasn't until the sixth that the offense showed any signs of waking up. An Ian Kinsler single was followed with an RBI double by Justin Upton, tying the game. But despite a two-on, two-out chance to capitalize, Detroit couldn't pull the trigger.
That tie evaporated in the next half when a first-pitch fastball was deposited into the right field seats by Byrd. Still, Verlander finished strong with his 10th strikeout of the night and he went seven full innings. Even at 118 pitches, his stuff looked good. The Detroit offense, however, was anything but good. Even with a runner at third, they jettisoned their chance tie the game, or more.
Justin Verlander: Allowed just four hits and two runs across seven innings pitched and 118 pitches. Dominant.
Justin Upton: Sure, he struck out in the fourth, but a hammered game-tying RBI double to the left-center field gap in the sixth made up for it. Guess this is more of a squeak than a roar, what with the silent bats all around for the rest of the night.
Justin Wilson: Allowed back-to-back singles, which, well, why the roar? He battled Napoli for nine pitches, faced five fouls, and after using his fastball almost exclusively, went to a cutter to end the at-bat. He followed it with a convincing swinging strikeout of Yan Gomes with a 96 mph fastball. Despite the hits, he never appeared to have an issue with the traffic and his ability to command the strike zone afterwards was impressive.
Tigers offense: Silent through five innings and did not work the count. Even with a runner on third in the seventh inning, Detroit still couldn't get ahead, squandering their few opportunities.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Justin Upton's looking strikeout in the fourth was his 26th of the year, which leads Major League Baseball.
- Ian Kinsler's leadoff single in the sixth gave him a 10-game hitting streak. He has at least one hit in 14 of the first 15 games of the year. He's also the first Tigers player to hit safely in 14 of the team's first 15 games of a season since Tony Phillips did it in 1993.
- Friday night marked Verlander's 30th career game with 10-or-more strikeouts. His last was on July 29, 2015 versus the Rays in a 2-1 win with 10 strikeouts.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: