Just as you can’t assume the double play, you can’t assume Justin Verlander will win every game.
Verlander certainly pitched well enough to win Thursday’s getaway game in Seattle, allowing just two runs on nine hits while walking one and striking out a season high 12.
But Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma matched him in the outs department, if not in strikeouts, and the bullpen of Carter Capps and Tom Wilhelmsen backed him up nicely in a 2-0 victory.
“Once again, good pitching,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said to John Keating in the postgame show. “Both guys, both starters were good. They got the one big hit, two out and a base hit and then the pinch hitter came through for them and they added one on.
“You saw a lot of good pitching in this series and looks to me like their bullpen is really good. Capps and Wilhelmsen came in and they’re both nasty.
Verlander did not allow a run until there were two outs in the seventh. Pinch hitter Kyle Seager had an RBI double for the first run and then Endy Chavez had an RBI single.
“Good until the seventh, two outs in the seventh,” Verlander said. “Just didn’t quite make the pitches I needed to in the seventh. A little bit of it was bad pitch selection on my part. Also bad execution.”
The Mariners prevented the sweep but the Tigers had already won the series by taking the first two games, including Wednesday night’s 14-inning marathon.
“We were hoping to get a little extra treat by getting a sweep, we didn’t do it,” Leyland said. “But that’s OK. That’s all part of the game. You’re not just going to come in and beat up on good teams three straight normally. You fight to try to win the series, we did that, we had a chance to get the little bonus. We just didn’t do it.”
The Tigers bats have cooled off considerably. Since scoring 26 runs in the first four games of the road trip, they have just two in 23 innings in the last two games.
“That’s pitching,” Leyland said. “You saw guys throwing 100, 98, 97, spotting the ball really good. Last night I’ve never seen Hernandez better. So we saw a lot of good pitching in this series. Both teams saw it. Their hitters saw it, our hitters saw it.”
Even Miguel Cabrera, who turned 30 Thursday, couldn’t do much. He was 1-for-4.
Prince Fielder, last week’s American League Player of the Week, was 2-for-4 but there weren’t very many RBI opportunities for either of them.
Verlander is 2-2 with a 2.13 ERA, eight walks and 29 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings. So no need to worry about him.
“He threw the ball really well today, we just couldn’t get anything across,” catcher Alex Avila said.