Tigers waste strong outing by Verlander
Detroit — Justin Verlander pitched another strong game for the Tigers Friday night and like most of his recent quality starts, he has nothing but another loss to show for it.
He limited the Rangers to one earned run and four hits through seven innings, but the Tigers couldn't get out of their own way against right-hander Colby Lewis and their win streak ended at three with a 2-0 defeat.
Verlander has now allowed one run or fewer in five of his last six starts with just one win over that span. His ERA over those starts is 1.67 and that includes the five runs he allowed to the Royals.
"It's like a double-edged sword," he said. "It would be a lot nicer if your team won those games. It would make you feel a lot better. Even though you pitched great, it doesn't make you feel great if you don't win as a team."
The Tigers have scored just six runs total in Verlander's last six starts.
"You can't allow yourself to get frustrated if your team's not scoring runs," he said. "That happens. It comes in stretches. We're just in one of those stretches right now, not as a whole, but it just seems to fall on my day.
"And that's OK. I just have to keep the team in the game and give them an opportunity to have an inning. You can't dwell on it. Just do your job."
The Rangers scored in the second inning on a two-out double by Will Venable. Verlander seemed miffed at home plate umpire Bill Knight. He thought he had Venable struck out on a 2-2 pitch.
Venable whacked the next pitch into the gap in left-center scoring, Elvis Andrus from second.
The unearned run in the third inning was on Verlander. Delino DeShields led off with a bunt single and an errant pick-off throw to first by Verlander sent him all the way to third.
He would score on a sacrifice fly by Prince Fielder.
"Errors happen," Verlander said. "You don't ever want to throw the ball away like that."
Verlander proceeded to dispatch 13 Rangers in a row and 14 of the last 15 he faced before leaving.
But the Tigers couldn't avoid the dreaded double-play ball, or their own baserunning foibles.
"Lewis pitched well," Nick Castellanos said. "He didn't miss much over the heart of the plate. But we also hit a lot of balls hard right at people. It stinks, but that's baseball."
They had Lewis on the ropes in the third and fourth innings and couldn't break through.
They loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Tyler Collins hit into a double play.
Miguel Cabrera led off the fourth inning by legging out a double, narrowly beating the throw from center fielder DeShields. It was the first of three straight doubles for Cabrera.
Victor Martinez followed with a long, towering fly ball to the wall in deepest right-center, 420-plus feet away. DeShields went back and caught it with his back to the infield, yet Cabrera did not tag up.
"He was in between whether it would be caught or not," manager Brad Ausmus said. "If it's not caught, you want to be in a position to score. I wasn't sure he was going to catch it and quite frankly, with the scoreboard lights, I wasn't sure that he had caught it. It's not that cut and dry."
With two outs, Castellanos singled to left and third-base coach Omar Vizquel, filling in for Dave Clark, who was attending his daughter's wedding, waved Cabrera home. The throw from Venable bounced several times but still beat Cabrera.
Home plate umpire Bill Knight thought Cabrera slid under the tag and ruled him safe. But after video review, he was ruled out.
It was the league-high 19th time a Tigers runner has been thrown out at the plate this season.
There was more questionable baserunning in the sixth. Cabrera doubled with one out. Victor Martinez hit a liner into the over-shifted defense that was caught by Rougned Odor in short right field. Cabrera was not only caught way off second, he hesitated before scrambling back.
"You come up through baseball your entire life and you are not used to having a guy standing in short right field," Ausmus said. "Your initial reaction off the bat is, it's a base hit. I've seen other players get caught on that.
"Shifting is a relatively new phenomenon in baseball and your instincts just take over. You see it off the bat, you think it's a hit. Probably for 25 years Miggy has been trained to score on that ball."
The play was still close at second because shortstop Elvis Andrus wasn't sure he touched the base and had to dive back and tag it with his glove.
Manager Brad Ausmus challenged the call and after a review that lasted four minutes and 57 seconds, the call was upheld.
Ausmus appeared to ask for an explanation — since it was unclear whether the ruling was based on the first part of the play (whether Andrus touched the base with his foot) or the last (beat Cabrera back with his glove).
He was ejected for his efforts.
Lewis, who has now won six of his last seven starts, induced three double plays in seven shutout innings.
Keone Kela, a hard-throwing right-hander, got three groundouts — two of them broken-bat grounders — in the eighth. And closer Shawn Tolleson, after giving up a leadoff double to Cabrera, struck out Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez and Castellanos to end the game.