Curtis Granderson opened the game with a bang, then the rest of the slumping Detroit offense followed his lead and took out its recent frustrations on the Texas Rangers.
Granderson led off with a home run and connected again in the second inning, and Justin Verlander equaled a career high by striking out 13 as the Tigers beat the Rangers 13-5 on Wednesday night.
“I’m not trying to hit home runs in the first at-bat,” Granderson said. “I’m trying to hit the ball hard and hope the rest of the team keeps that edge.”
Detroit scored in each of the first seven innings and matched a season high with 19 hits.
Miguel Cabrera, who had four hits and four RBIs, hit a three-run shot and Marcus Thames also homered for Detroit. The AL Central-leading Tigers improved to 5-8 since the All-Star break and scored more than three runs for just the fifth time in the span.
Detroit scored six runs in the first three innings, matching the total it scored in losing the past three games.
“(Granderson) set the tone and everybody fell in place,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s what we need to do. Get a bunch of our guys going hot. If we can get a bunch of them going at once, then we’re in business.”
Brandon Lyon and Casey Fien each pitched an inning of relief for the Tigers.
The trio combined for 18 strikeouts, the most for a team in a nine-inning game this season.
Verlander (12-5) tied for the major league lead in wins. He boosted his AL-leading strikeout total to 172 while pitching seven innings.
After starting the game throwing in the low 90s, Verlander ramped up it up near 100 mph in the later innings.
“That’s what he does,” Rangers center fielder Marlon Byrd said. “There’s a reason he’s leading the world in strikeouts.”
When Verlander wasn’t stifling the Texas offense, the Tigers were giving him ample run support.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux made six trips to the mound, five in the first four innings, to try and settle down his pitchers.
The Rangers‘ problems started when Granderson homered on the third pitch of the game from Scott Feldman (9-4). It was his 20th career leadoff home run.
After escaping a bases-loaded jam later in the first, Feldman was touched up again by Granderson and the Tigers in the second.
Granderson’s two-run homer and Carlos Guillen‘s RBI single gave Detroit a 4-0 lead. Ryan Raburn had an RBI single in the third, and Feldman was chased two batters later.
“Their bats woke up,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They got hits all kinds of ways. There was nothing we could do about it.”
Feldman allowed a season-high six runs and 10 hits in 2 1-3 innings, his shortest start of the season. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings in his last start in beating Kansas City ace Zack Greinke.
“I did an awful job,” Feldman said. “Bad command cost me the most. It was a frustrating night.”
Verlander, who struck out 13 against Minnesota on May 14, improved to 6-1 against the Rangers lifetime with a 2.37 ERA. He gave up four runs and six hits.
“I expected us to turn it around,” Verlander said. “We have the talent. It’s a matter of stringing some hits together.”
Andruw Jones homered twice and Michael Young had a two-run double for Texas, which lost for the only the second time in 10 games.
The Rangers scored three runs in the fifth to come within 8-4 and had runners on second and third with one out. Verlander struck out David Murphy on a 99 mph fastball, then got Byrd looking with a 97 mph pitch.
NOTES: Texas RHP Frank Francisco threw early batting practice as he continues to recover from the flu. Washington said the closer wouldn’t be activated from the DL before Saturday. … This was Granderson’s fourth two-homer game of his career. … The Rangers signed their third-round draft pick, LHP Robbie Erlin of Scotts Valley (Calif.) High School.