Tigers top Indians 5-4 in 10 innings for third straight win
JUN 21, 2014 11:21p ET
One out of two wasn't bad as the Tigers won in Cleveland 5-4 in 10 innings Saturday night for their third straight victory. The win coupled with the Royals' 2-1 loss to the Mariners gave the Tigers a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL Central.
Verlander, who had given up five earned runs or more in six of his last seven starts, had a much better outing Saturday. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, walked one and struck out a season-high tying eight in seven innings.
"This last month for me has been pretty frustrating," Verlander told reporters in Cleveland. "It was time to just stop tinkering and get back to the way I'm supposed to throw."
Although Verlander had thrown only 100 pitches, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus had mentioned that he might take Verlander out earlier than normal if Verlander had a good outing.
"He was definitely good, but ironing out mechanics does not happen overnight," Ausmus told reporters in Cleveland. "I wanted him to leave on a good note and feel good about his start."
Verlander's never lacking in confidence, but even he had to be questioning himself after his latest bad run.
Last season, Verlander went through a rough stretch but nothing compared to this year's.
In 45 2/3 innings in 2013, Verlander had a 6.11 ERA and struck out 53. In 43 2/3 innings this season, Verlander had a 7.83 ERA and struck out only 26.
The one earned run allowed Saturday was Verlander's best result since April 17, when he didn't allow an earned run against Cleveland at Comerica Park. The Indians did score three unearned runs that day, and Verlander pitched only five innings.
Ausmus, a former catcher, recently took on a more active role in reviewing video with Verlander and pitching coach Jeff Jones. They compared video of Verlander from a couple of years ago to Verlander of late, and found some differences.
Certainly one good start isn't enough to say that Verlander is back to being his old self, but it's a step in the right direction.
"Nobody said this game was easy," Verlander said.
Verlander's next start will be next Friday in Houston.
In fairness to Nathan, he was pitching for the third straight day. He struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth before giving up three straight singles -- to David Murphy, Yan Gomes and Michael Bourn -- that tied the game at 4.
Nathan threw 32 pitches and will most likely not be available if the Tigers have a save situation Sunday.
Joba Chamberlain, who had pitched three straight days, didn't pitch Saturday and might be asked to close a game Sunday if needed.
Phil Coke, who hasn't pitched in many close situations, earned his first save of the season in the 10th inning, striking out three of four batters.
KROL TO DL; MCCOY MOVING UP
The Tigers placed left-handed reliever Ian Krol on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation. They'll purchase the contract of left-handed reliever Patrick McCoy from Triple-A Toledo before Sunday's game.
McCoy is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 13 outings with the Mud Hens. He has 17 strikeouts and just five walks in 20 innings.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers transferred right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.
Victor Martinez hit his 19th home run of the season, the most since he had 20 in 2010 with Boston.
Martinez's career high is 25, set in 2007 with the Cleveland Indians. He hit his 19th on Aug. 25 at Kansas City that season.