PHOENIX — A rookie’s mental mistake proved costly for the Arizona Diamondbacks in their 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
Ender Inciarte, potentially the tying run, singled in the seventh but was picked off by catcher Bryan Holaday. David Peralta then walked and Aaron Hill singled.
But instead of Inciarte scoring the tying run, he was in the dugout lamenting his error.
"A big mistake," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
Inciarte acknowledged as much.
"I messed up," Inciarte said. "I thought it was a 3-2 count. I was going to go and when I came back I thought I had a chance to get back to the bag but my foot got stuck in the ground. Either way I messed up. I should be aware of the situation."
Holaday said he had noticed that Inciarte was "pretty far off" first.
"He’s a pretty fast guy," Holaday said, "but I noticed he didn’t get back immediately. I made the throw after I saw that."
Detroit’s Justin Verlander pitched into the seventh inning and said he felt the best he has all season. He credited some pictures of himself that he looked at "literally 10 minutes" before warming up.
Verlander said he "came across a couple of pictures," one from earlier in his career and one from this season. He was looking to see if he had changed his grip at all. Instead, he noticed a difference in his arm action and made an immediate adjustment when he warmed up in the bullpen.
"I went out and tried to throw the way that I used to throw," he said.
The results, Verlander said, were immediate and carried over into the game, when he held Arizona hitless through the first three innings.
"It felt like I was able to throw the way I want," he said. "Really, the first time all year that I’ve been able to locate my fastball as well as I would like to."
Miguel Cabrera drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with a booming single just below the home run line on the Chase Field porch in left-center.
Torii Hunter had a two-run homer in the second, his fifth in the last 15 games. Austin Jackson added a solo shot. Both were off starter Vidal Nuno (0-2).
"That is a tough lineup there," Nuno said. "If you leave balls up they can do some damage."
Verlander (9-8) allowed three runs and six hits in 6-2/3 innings to win for the third time in his last four starts. He struck out five to pass Hal Newhouser into third place on the Tigers’ all-time list (1,772).
Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 25 opportunities.
There seemed to be as many Tigers fans as there were for the Diamondbacks, maybe more.
"It felt like I was pitching in Detroit," Nathan joked, "except there weren’t as many boos."
Gerardo Parra homered for Arizona.
Nuno, in his third start since coming to Arizona in the trade that sent Brandon McCarthy to the New York Yankees, went 4 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.
"The consistency wasn’t there," Nuno said. "That is why I exited the ballgame so early.
Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt doubled to boost his major league-leading total to 38. Cabrera leads the AL with 36.
The Diamondbacks had won a season-high four consecutive home games.
Cabrera hit what certainly was the longest single in Chase Field history, a line drive off the protruding porch just to the left-field side of the batter’s eye and just below the yellow home run line. David Peralta fielded the ball as it bounced back in play and threw out Cabrera as he attempted to stretch it to a double.
13 — consecutive interleague victories by Tigers right-hander Verlander, who is 24-2 in interleague play
The American League could not have liked this — Verlander made a little delivery tweak during a pregame video session that he said helped him rediscover his location. "I came across a couple of pictures of my arm action on the back side," said Verlander, who said he noticed the difference 10 minutes before the team went out for stretch. "I was like ‘That doesn’t look the same.’ Went out threw the way I used to throw, and immediately I was able to locate the way I thought I should. I could tell right from jump street I was able to throw the way I want. Really the first time all year that I felt I’ve been able to locate my fastball as well as I would like to. Sometimes you migrate into bad habits and don’t even know it." And sometimes the rest of the league starts to cry.