Tigers shut out by Mariners

BY foxsports • September 18, 2013

DETROIT -- Danny Farquhar and Alex Avila might be the only people in Comerica Park who remember Wednesday's Mariners-Tigers game for more than 24 hours.

After striking out Avila to end Seattle's 8-0 win, "Lord" Farquhar gets bragging rights over his high-school teammate. That's something that will probably get mentioned at the Archbishop McCarthy High School reunion a few years down the road.

For everyone else, though, it's just a minor speed bump in a season that the Tigers and their fans will remember for what happens in October.

Yes, the Tigers allowed eight runs, but five of those were given up by Phil Coke and Luke Putkonen, and they aren't going to be pitching in key situations in October. Coke has gone from Detroit's closer in last season's ALCS to a longshot to even get mop-up duty this season.

"Phil's just not making good enough pitches to get big league hitters out right now," Jim Leyland said, burying Coke's shot at October. "It as simple as that."

Al Alburquerque didn't help matters with a rare two-run wild pitch, but even he's going to be behind Joaquin Benoit, Drew Smyly, Jose Veras and Rick Porcello in a postseason bullpen.

Detroit was also shut out for the 11th time this season, but that's not nearly as bad as it looks, either. Hisashi Iwakuma isn't quite a household name -- he's only in the second year of his American part of his career, and he pitches on the West Coast in the shadow of Felix Hernandez -- but he's one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Iwakuma's eight shutout innings gave him 25 straight on the road without allowing a run, tying a Mariners record, and lowered his season ERA to 2.76.

"He's an All-Star pitcher and he was terrific tonight," Leyland said. "The ball moves all over the place, and he can throw a lot of different pitches in any count at any time. We just ran into a buzz saw tonight."

Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-4 against Iwakuma, striking out twice.

"There are not too many pitchers in baseball that can make Miggy swing the bat like that," said Eric Wedge. "He's just a great pitcher right now, and his preparation and focus are as good as any starter I've had."

So, for Tigers fans, the only important thing about Wednesday is that Justin Verlander continued to get a little better as the postseason approaches. He had a hiccup in the second inning, allowing a pair of runs on two line drives into the left-centerfield gap, but the Mariners only got two hits in his final five innings.

"The stuff has been getting better almost every time out," he said. "I only gave up four hits tonight, and only two of them hurt me. I need to cut down on my walks, but that wasn't a big deal tonight. You never want to lose, but I was able to take a little solace out of the fact that I was able to go seven innings and give our bullpen a little rest."

Verlander did allow a sixth-inning homer to Justin Smoak, making it 3-0, but that didn't bother him.

"He hit a really, really good pitch," he said. "I couldn't have thrown any better pitch at that point. I was trying to get them to put the ball in play early in the count, and I did what I wanted. Smoak just elevated it, and he's got a lot of power, so it went out."

Cleveland's 7-2 loss to Kansas City dropped Detroit's magic number to five with 10 games left -- a position much more comfortable than they faced a year ago. Detroit's remaining games are against the Mariners, White Sox, Twins and Marlins, four teams heading for 90-loss seasons, and if they go just 3-7, the Indians would to finish 9-1 to steal the division.

So unless you had high-school bragging rights on the line, it was a night that should be easy to forget.

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