Verlander outdueled by Haren in loss
Justin Verlander knew his winning streak was over the moment he stepped off the Angel Stadium mound, so he decided to go out with a memorable flourish.
After Verlander yielded seven hits and pitched impressively into the eighth inning, the Detroit ace was ejected while walking to the dugout in the Tigers’ 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.
Verlander’s nine-game winning streak ended with his first loss since April 27, a span of 12 starts. Although Verlander (11-4) was sharp yet again, striking out eight while throwing 129 pitches, the Angels beat him with a second-inning run on Erick Aybar’s double and a phenomenal performance by Dan Haren, who threw a two-hitter against Detroit’s potent lineup for his 100th career victory.
Verlander had won in his last seven trips to the mound since May 29, with nine straight victories overall for the Tigers, who have lost six of eight.
”It’s tough. The good side is, you pitched pretty well,” Verlander said. ”The bad side is, you lost. Our job is to go out there and keep our guys in the game, and hopefully they can scratch across a couple of runs tonight against a guy like Dan Haren. We just weren’t able to do it. He was really good.”
Detroit manager Jim Leyland also was ejected before the seventh inning. Leyland said he was steamed about a call at first base in the second inning that allowed Howie Kendrick to reach on an infield single, eventually leading to the only run.
Verlander had little to say about his ejection, but appeared to be angry after the umpires forced him to change balls during the sixth inning.
”You don’t like to see that with either team, but those things happen,” Leyland said of a game featuring three ejections. ”It was a great matchup. Haren was terrific, and so was Justin. We expected the runs to be scarce, and obviously they were.”
The Tigers also lost slugger Brennan Boesch in the third inning after he fouled a pitch off the inside of his right thigh.
Haren’s parents were in attendance at Angel Stadium in hopes of seeing the milestone win, but the Tigers made Haren (9-5) work for it. He finished by retiring 15 straight batters, celebrating his 13th career complete game under a spray of fireworks.
”We’ll definitely be celebrating,” Haren said. ”I wish it wasn’t a day game tomorrow. … I have a lot of respect for (Verlander) and what he can do. It’s even more special because of the matchup and that lineup over there. Those 3-4-5 hitters are as good as it gets.”
Verlander was named the AL pitcher of the month for June earlier Tuesday after the All-Star selection went 6-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 54 strikeouts, but Haren retired 19 of the Tigers’ last 20 hitters overall, expertly mixing speeds and locations in a stark contrast to Verlander’s intimidating power.
Detroit managed only Austin Jackson’s third-inning triple and Jhonny Peralta’s leadoff single in the fifth, with star sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez both going 0 for 3. Boesch also reached first in the first inning after striking out on a wild pitch, but Haren had nine strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter.
”He’s been phenomenal,” Kendrick said. ”We haven’t always given him run support, but he’s always keeping us in it. I love playing defense behind him.”
Kendrick extended his hitting streak to 14 games with that infield single in the second inning, much to Leyland’s displeasure. Moments later, Kendrick scored on Aybar’s hit-and-run double down the right-field line when right fielder Magglio Ordonez threw to second base instead of home.
”I was running hard, but I kept waiting and waiting for Dino (Ebel),” Kendrick said of the Angels’ third-base coach. ”When I got the signal, I kept going.”
Verlander retired the next eight batters, but the Angels loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth on two singles and a walk. Verlander escaped the jam with a strikeout, a popup and an inning-ending, full-count line drive to center field by Torii Hunter.
The Angels have been inexplicably bad with the bases loaded this season, hitting .196 with a major league-low 31 runs scored in that situation.
NOTES: Angels designated hitter Bobby Abreu was ejected in the first inning by plate umpire Angel Campos for arguing a called third strike. No Angels player had been ejected from a game this season before Campos threw out Abreu, who hadn’t been tossed since 2007. … Boesch has a bruised right knee, the Tigers announced. He entered the game on a roll, hitting .398 with eight homers and 15 RBIs over his last 30 games. … Hunter grounded into his major league-leading 19th double play in the eighth inning.