Tigers 6, Mariners 4
Justin Verlander felt fortunate to settle down both his emotions
and his control, making the early runs he was given by Detroit’s
offense stand up.
After nearly getting ejected in the third inning, Verlander kept
his composure to pick up his 12th straight decision on the road,
Prince Fielder homered and the Tigers built an early lead before
holding on for a 6-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday
Just moments after manager Jim Leyland was ejected by home plate
umpire Brian Knight for arguing balls and strikes in the third
inning, Verlander found himself in a shouting match with Knight and
needing to be restrained by teammates. Neither Verlander nor
catcher Gerald Laird was ejected as calm eventually prevailed.
”I made a pitch that I thought was a strike and I say something
and he’s already upset obviously, so that’s the nature of the
game,” Verlander said. ”I talked to Brian when I came out of the
game and I think we’re both understanding of what was going on
there. I’m just thankful that I didn’t say too much or Gerald
didn’t say too much.”
Despite not being sharp early, Verlander eventually found a
groove and gave up three runs on seven hits. He retired nine of his
final 10 batters, struck out six and went at least six innings for
the 49th straight start.
But it still took a tremendous defensive play from outfield
replacement Don Kelly to give the Tigers their first victory over
Seattle in five tries this season. On the verge of another
ninth-inning meltdown, Kelly made a running catch while crashing
into the first row of the stands on Jesus Montero’s foul ball down
the right field line with the bases loaded.
The catch gave Jose Valverde his sixth save in eight chances
despite walking the bases loaded in the ninth.
”When you get over toward the stands you never know what is
going to happen,” Kelly said. ”So you try to get up above (the
fans) and come down with the ball.”
Andy Dirks had a single, double and drove in three runs in his
first two at-bats, helping give Verlander (3-1) a 5-0 lead. Delmon
Young added a two-run double in the second and Fielder added his
fifth homer of the season in the seventh.
But Leyland, who watched most of the game on TV in his office
after being ejected, was not pleased with the number of poor
pitches the Tigers were swinging at.
”I watched very close tonight because in the dugout you can’t
always tell and … we swung at a lot of balls,” Leyland said.
”We’re not going to hit if we swing at the kind of pitches we
swung at tonight after the third or fourth inning.”
Seattle starter Kevin Millwood (0-4) barely made it through the
second. Austin Jackson doubled on the second pitch of the game and
Dirks immediately followed with a single for a 1-0 lead. Millwood
escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first, and again in the fifth,
but was tagged for four runs in the second.
Brennan Boesch and Laird opened the inning with singles and
scored on Dirks’ double. After an out, Millwood walked Fielder and
Young made Seattle pay for pitching around Fielder with a
line-drive double into the left-center field gap to score Dirks and
Fielder, chugging around from first.
Despite numerous chances, the Tigers weren’t able to add on
until the seventh when Fielder lined a solo shot deep into the
right field seats off Seattle reliever Shawn Kelley.
”It all just comes down to that `one inning’ again,” Millwood
said. ”I was able to battle and get out of the first and then the
second was that inning again.”
Leyland was ejected after barking toward Knight after it was
ruled that John Jaso held up on a 1-2 pitch that was low.
The third was the only inning Seattle got to Verlander with
three straight hits capped by Ichiro Suzuki’s RBI single, and later
followed by Kyle Seager’s two-run single.
”I wasn’t happy with the strike zone,” Leyland said. ”I let
them know it and they let me know where to go.”
NOTES: The Tigers are without C Alex Avila until at least
Thursday in Oakland due to a sore right patella tendon. Avila
aggravated his knee in Monday night’s loss and Leyland said Avila
would not play either Tuesday or Wednesday to give the knee some
rest. … Seattle is unsure if RHP Blake Beavan will be ready to
make his scheduled start on Sunday in New York. Beavan took a liner
off his right arm in Monday’s game. … Since last season, Seattle
had won five straight vs. Detroit.