Justin Verlander pitched eight strong innings to pick up his 16th win — and continued to bolster his Cy Young candidacy — as the Detroit Tigers snapped their brief two-game losing streak and downed the Kansas City Royals, 6-2 on Monday night.
Prince Fielder got the Tigers out to an early lead, blasting a second-inning homer off Luke Hochevar. Alex Avila added a run in that inning with a deep double to right-center, which scored Jhonny Peralta. Alex Gordon brought K.C. back within one in the fourth on a solo homer, but the Tigers would pile on some insurance runs after that.
Austin Jackson doubled home two in the fifth, sneaking one just fair down the first-base line to plate Avila and Omar Infante — Jackson picked up just one RBI, as Infante scored on a Jeff Francouer error.
Billy Butler drove in Kansas City’s second run in the eighth, but Andy Dirks had a pair of RBIs — one in the sixth on sac fly, and a second in the eighth on a single.
Jose Valverde closed out the win with a 1-2-3 ninth, but not before he was roundly booed by the Comerica Park crowd.
Tigers’ MVP: Verlander.
The Tigers needed their ace to step up after a shaky Sunday left them reeling and with a shortened bullpen. Verlander did just that, giving up nine hits but just two runs over eight innings. He also struck out eight and threw a staggering 89 strikes on his 114 pitches. Verlander has had better stuff than he had Monday night, but he has rarely been as aggressive in the strike zone.
Tigers’ Goat: Jhonny Peralta.
Peralta had a hit but was wiped off the bases when he tried to stretch it into a double. He also grounded into a double play to end an eighth-inning rally and again had a grounder sneak past him on a play most other shortstops would have made. It’s becoming clearer by the day that Peralta won’t be the Tigers’ SS when the 2013 season opens.
What’s Next: Tigers killer Bruce Chen is on the hill for the Royals, so Detroit will need a strong effort from Anibal Sanchez to get win No. 2 in this series. Expect to see the Tigers’ lefty lineup — Omar Infante batting second, Avisail Garcia in the outfield, with Quintin Berry back on the bench.