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Tigers 3, Astros 2: Justin Verlander’s spectacular start saved by offensive comeback

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The Tigers cannot lose.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

DETROIT — Justin Verlander came oh-so-close to a shutout, and his efforts did not go for naught — barely. Thanks to some wild antics in the ninth, the Tigers came back from a 2-1 deficit in the top of the ninth, winning it 3-2 on a walk-off single by Jose Iglesias for a five-game winning streak.

It was the misplay that nearly made the game. Jose Altuve, on what should’ve been an easy inning-ending popout, tripped in shallow right-center in the sixth. Cameron Maybin, who was standing on first base, had been cruising toward third when the misplay put him into another gear. He headed for home, despite the ball having barely left the infield, and dove for the plate, just making it in time.

That was the only run of the game to that point. Justin Verlander’s performance was on display once again, but he had some serious competition in Astros’ Mike Fiers. Both starters had firm command of their pitches and kept opposing batters off balance. Verlander played the part of the strikeout artist, though, tallying 11 whiffs to Fiers’ six on the night. The blemishes were few and far between.

The Tigers’ offense forced Fiers’ exit in the seventh when they put two on, but it was a short-lived endeavor and no one scored. Verlander appeared to have the upper hand nonetheless, but that changed in the ninth when he gave up a leadoff single and back-to-back one-out singles, and a fielder’s choice gave the Astros the lead. Fortunately for Detroit, they would not give up and after getting two-on in the ninth, Tyler Collins delivered a game-tying single, followed by Iglesias’ game-winning run by a hair.

ROARS:

Justin Verlander: Pitching status? Verlandering. He went nine innings and gave up two runs on five hits, striking out 11 batters and walking one. He had allowed just two hits through eight innings.

Ninth inning: That entire inning and everyone involved. Fantastic.

HISSES:

Tigers offense: In their defense, Mike Fiers had some mean stuff working in his favor. But even when the Tigers had a one-out, two-on situation in the seventh and knocked Fiers from the game, they couldn’t add on run support.

STATS AND INFO:
  • Only five pitchers have more 10-strikeout games this season than Verlander's five: Clayton Kershaw (9), Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer (8), and Jose Fernandez (7). Only four pitchers have more such games in the last decade than his 34: Kershaw (51), Scherzer (44), Price and Lincecum (36). (h/t @matthewbmowery)
  • The Tigers have a five-game winning streak.
  • Justin Verlander’s 11 strikeouts on the night gave him his fifth 10-or-more strikeout game of the year, and the 34th of his career.

Yu Darvish leads that streak with 23, Jose Fernandez has 21, Robbie Ray has 20, and Scherzer is at 18.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

Source: FanGraphs