Indians rally to beat Verlander, Tigers
They say you never know what to expect when Justin Verlander takes the mound.
But the Tigers sure didn't expect what they got Thursday night in Cleveland — a 5-3 loss.
Entering the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers had a 3-1 lead and Verlander's pitch count was still low.
Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner took Verlander's first two pitches of the seventh — both high fastballs — out of the park, tying the game at 3. Jose Lopez, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis all singled, scoring two more runs.
"I guess I didn't hit my spots at all," Verlander told FOX Sports Detroit's Ryan Field on the postgame show. "Obviously a team that was extremely aggressive to the fastball all night but it doesn't really matter if I hit my spots. I just wasn't able to that last inning. I threw a couple pitches in homer-happy areas to lead off the inning, Santana and Hafner, and they hit them."
The Indians batted around against Verlander, who is now 13-13 with a 4.77 ERA lifetime against the Indians.
"The seventh inning was a big turnaround," manager Jim Leyland told Field. "I thought we had a chance to add on, we didn't, and then they put runs on the board. To their credit, it looked like they had a great game plan against Justin. It looked like they were going to ambush first-pitch fastballs and they never got off of it. It hurt him a little bit early and it hurt him a little bit late."
Verlander recognized that the Indians were trying to attack his fastball but said it shouldn't have mattered.
"It works to my advantage most of the time," Verlander said. "I'll take teams doing that every time. I feel like I'm good enough of a pitcher to be able to hit my spots and get some easy outs when guys are trying to do that, and be able to back and forth with the speed, with some off-speed. Just on nights like tonight you gotta hope you make pitches when you need to and there in that seventh I wasn't able to do that."
The Tigers fell to 53-46, a half-game behind the idle Chicago White Sox in the Central Division.
Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez finished it off for the Indians, leaving the Tigers wondering, "What just happened here?"
But Verlander said he wasn't surprised by what happened.
"Obviously this is the game of baseball and stuff like that happens," Verlander said. "It's more of a letdown, extremely disappointed in myself in not being able to go out there with a two-run lead in the seventh and be able to shut the door and get us our 'W.' More upset at myself than anything."
Delmon Young, who hit a home run in the game, said it might just be that the Indians were too familiar with Verlander.
"It's a division rival," Young told Field. "We're facing a team that's seen Verlander a lot. They just came out and they got the best of him but nine out of 10 times, I'm going to take Ver over anybody."
As will the Tigers, who will send Verlander back to the mound next Tuesday in Boston.