It may have taken three starts and a roller coaster ninth inning, but Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander finally earned his first win of the year with a 3-2 complete game victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Many fans were probably thinking Monday’s game was going to be much of the same for the Tigers, as they managed to strand two runners on with no-outs in the first inning. Perhaps worst of all, the opportunities came after an Austin Jackson solo home run and with Danny Duffy pitching through the heart of the Detroit order.
Despite failing to drive in the runners it didn’t look like it was going to be a problem, as Detroit had given Justin Verlander a lead. While it was a small one, it was big enough for fans to feel comfortable. The comfort didn’t last long however, as Alex Gordon opened the Royals half of the inning with a double. Three batters later, Gordon was home, Verlander’s lead was gone and the game looked eerily similar to the ones they played over the weekend.
For the next four innings, it was a pretty much a pitchers duel between Verlander and Duffy, as neither looked like they were going to let the other team take the lead. While they may have given up a few hits here and there, both starters held strong. The lack of scoring didn’t last the whole game though and abruptly came to an end in the fifth inning.
Jhonny Peralta started off the top of the fifth with a double to left field and after an Alex Avila strikeout, it brought everyone’s favorite second baseman, Brandon Inge. Many probably expected him to strike out, but there were probably more than a few Tigers fans who thought he would hit one out of the park. Inge did just that, as he signaled his return to the infield with a two-run homer to center field to give Detroit a 3-1 lead.
Inge would cap the scoring, locking both teams in to a two-run contest until the ninth inning. Looking for him to get his first win of the year, Manager Jim Leyland sent his ace back to the mound clinging to a slim lead and a low pitch count. What would follow would be a Tiger fans worst nightmare.
Billy Butler started the inning off with a single to left field, followed up by a ground out by Jeff Francoeur. While it gave Verlander an out, it still moved the runner up to second. Then a ground out from Mike Moustakas put the runner to third base with two outs. It looked as if Verlander would get out of the jam with two outs and Humerto Quintero up, but he took a ground ball to right field to bring home the Royals base runner and make it a one run game.
The wheels really came off the wagon for Verlander after Kansas City made it a one run game. Detroit’s ace then walked Mitch Maier to put runners at first and second and then hit Alcides Escobar with a pitch to load the bases. Finally, just as the game began Alex Gordon stepped to the mound with a chance to win it. After a battle Verlander finally struck out Gordon on his 131st pitch of the game.
Tigers’ MVP: As much as it may pain me to say it, Inge was the one who broke the tie and hit a monster home run to center field. It was a big bomb in a big spot and directly led to the Tigers win.
Tigers’ Goat: It is not often you see him here, but Miguel Cabrera continues to struggle at the plate. He went 0-3 with one walk, one strikeout and left one on base. It drops his season batting average to .222 and should now have Tiger fans concerned, but not panicking.