Detroit — By winning Wednesday's game against the White Sox, Justin Verlander finished the season 15-12 with a 4.54 ERA.
In eight innings, he allowed one run on seven hits while striking out six without a walk.
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said he saw the same "laser focus" in Verlander he'd seen in his previous start in Kansas City.
"He knew this was a big game for us," Ausmus said. "And he dialed it up. About the third inning he got loose and held his velocity the rest of the way."
Verlander was 10-11 on Aug. 23, but finished the season with three consecutive victories and five in his last six decisions.
Still, for the kind of pitcher Verlander has been, it was — as Ausmus called it — "certainly a down year" for him.
At the same time he called it a down year, however, Ausmus said, "Next year I think he will be much better."
"I do believe, though, that he's one of those pitchers that the brighter the light, the better he is," Ausmus said. "He rises to an occasion."
With eight innings against the White Sox, Verlander ended with 206, becoming the fourth pitcher in Tigers history with eight straight seasons of 200-plus innings, and the first since Mickey Lolich had 12 straight from 1964-75.
Verlander also won at least 15 games for the seventh time with the Tigers, ranking fourth behind Jack Morris' 10 seasons of 15 or more wins, George Mullin's nine and Lolich's eight.
Lobstein earns start
Even if the Tigers are in a position to clinch the American League Central on Saturday, Ausmus won't alter his rotation to make sure an experienced starter will start.
Not only do the Tigers believe rookie Kyle Lobstein, who is scheduled to start, has gained enough valuable experience to stay in the rotation, but as Ausmus said, he's been impressively consistent.
"You can make the argument he's been our most consistent pitcher recently, basically a month," Ausmus said. "He went from being a guy that wasn't discussed when we first called up Robbie Ray earlier in the season, to being — in a relatively small sample size — an extremely consistent left-handed pitcher."
A little taste
His team wasn't playing for anything but pride this week, but Paul Konerko, for whom Tuesday was his last game at Comerica Park before he retires, was glad the White Sox at least got the taste of a playoff atmosphere.
"You could feel that this game mattered," he said after the Tigers won 4-3 on Miguel Cabrera's walk-off single in the ninth. "You could definitely sense it wasn't just your average regular-season game.
"It's never the same unless it's you that is in it, don't get me wrong. But hopefully a year from now, coming down the stretch in September, it's the White Sox that have meaningful games."
Tigers broadcaster Mario Impemba, who missed the last two games because of what he said was a "bad cold that went straight to my throat," is expected back Thursday.
Impemba said he started coming down with the ailment last Saturday in Kansas City, and it "got worse by the day."
On deck: Twins
Series: Four games, Thursday-Sunday, Comerica Park, Detroit
First pitch: 7:08 Thursday night-Saturday, 1:08 p.m. Sunday
TV/radio: FSD/97.1 Thursday-Sunday, 1270 on Sunday
Probables: Tonight — RHP Trevor May (3-5, 8.39) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (17-5, 3.19); Friday — RHP Anthony Swarzak (3-2, 4.52) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (15-12, 3.31); Saturday — RHP Ricky Nolasco (5-12, 5.47)vs. LHP Kyle Lobstein (1-1, 3.38); Sunday — RHP Kyle Gibson (13-11, 4.50) vs. LHP David Price (3-4, 3.97)
■May: Has a sky-high 8.39 ERA, but has won three of his last four starts. Two starts ago, he had 10 strikeouts in six innings of a 6-4 victory in Chicago.
■Scherzer: Has achieved consistent excellence with a 38-8 record the last two years. Plus, the Tigers are 48-16 when he's started in those two seasons.