Justin Verlander Picks Up 15th Win as Detroit Tigers Close Gap in AL Central

smacked his 41st home run of the season, turned in six strong innings for his 15th win and, most importantly, the picked up a game in the AL Central race on Wednesday night. Detroit cruised past Oakland for the second straight evening, 6-2, and received a big assist from Kansas City, which knocked off White Sox ace Chris Sale.

The Tigers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, with doubling home a pair of runs and Delmon Young scoring another with a sac fly. Oakland lost starter Brett Anderson to an apparent oblique injury in that inning. Jhonny Peralta and Infante added RBIs later, and Cabrera put another moment on his highlight reel, taking an eye-level fastball and arcing it into the seats in left for his 41st home run of the season.

Verlander was not at his best — he needed 122 pitches to get through six innings, and the A’s had seven base runners in the first four innings alone — but he held a 5-0 lead when he exited and lowered his ERA to 2.74 in the process.

made things slightly more interesting in the ninth, allowing back-to-back RBI singles, but he K’d Seth Smith to end it.

Tigers’ MVP: Infante.

Hard to complain much about Verlander’s six shutout innings, but Infante provided the big hit early to get Detroit on the board and give Verlander something to work with. Infante had just one hit in his five at-bats, but he boosted his RBI total with Detroit up to 18 — and the Tigers could sure use some production from him over the final two weeks.

Tigers’ Goat: Valverde.

The game was never really in doubt in the ninth, but you wouldn’t know it from the booing fans at Comerica Park. Three days after Valverde blew a potential Tigers’ win in Cleveland, he looked shaky again, despite retiring the first two batters he faced. Detroit needs Valverde to lock down every opportunity he has for the rest of the season.

What’s Next: The Tigers go for a crucial sweep on Thursday afternoon, with Anibal Sanchez matching up against Tommy Milone. It’s a huge long shot, but you still cannot count the Tigers out of the wild-card race if they manage to finish off Oakland in the series finale — a win would pull Detroit within four of the A’s with 13 games left, and Oakland’s finishing stretch is a brutal one.

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