Verlander gets plenty of support, beats A's again
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Justin Verlander will make the call, even if it's just mid-April: Prince Fielder for AL MVP.
No pressure on the big fella intended
from the guy who won that award plus the Cy Young two years ago. No
T-shirt campaign yet.
Fielder homered for the second straight
game, Torii Hunter hit his first clout since joining Detroit to help
back Verlander and the Tigers snapped the Oakland Athletics' nine-game
winning streak with a 7-3 victory Saturday.
Jhonny Peralta followed Fielder's
leadoff shot in the fourth with a three-run homer, and the Tigers didn't
let the A's back into this one a day after losing 4-3 in 12 innings.
After hitting a three-run homer during a
four-hit game Friday, Fielder extended his hitting streak to eight
games with a two-out single in the first and connected for his fourth
homer. He walked in the fifth and seventh.
"I think he's going to even better this
year. I don't think it's any stretch of the imagination that he's got a
good chance to win the MVP in this league," Verlander said. "He's
definitely got the talent to do it and everybody knows he can. I don't
want anybody to get ahead of themselves."
A's nemesis Verlander (2-1) outpitched
Oakland lefty Brett Anderson before a sellout crowd of 35,067, similar
to those spirited fans who packed the Coliseum for last fall's division
series between these clubs.
Verlander, making his third start since
signing a $180 million, seven-year contract on March 29, pitched the
Tigers past the A's 6-0 in the Game 5 clincher at the Coliseum last
October after winning the opener.
"I don't really think about it, to be honest with you," Verlander said. "The fans reminded me with their boos."
This time, he shut down the AL's
hottest team. Even dropping to 9-3, the A's have tied the second-best
mark in club history after 12 games.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin was ejected
by plate umpire Andy Fletcher in the bottom of the eighth for arguing
after Brandon Moss was called out on strikes. The A's loaded the bases
that inning but pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie struck out looking against
Verlander, who took a 7-0 loss his last
time out against the Yankees, had to throw 31 pitches in the fourth,
taking him to 79 -- and that inning kept him from pitching the seventh.
The right-hander struck out six and walked three in six innings,
allowing one run and three hits. He gave way to Al Alburquerque after
Chris Young, playing center field in
place of the injured Coco Crisp, hit a two-out, two-run double in the
seventh and Tigers manager Jim Leyland turned to Phil Coke. He retired
Josh Reddick on a grounder.
Verlander got plenty of run support.
Leyland sees this as Fielder's best
stretch since leaving Milwaukee to join the Tigers on a $214 million,
nine-year contract before last season. Fielder won't evaluate himself,
"I just try to be a dog and have good swings, at-bats," Fielder said.
Brayan Pena's RBI double in the sixth
chased Anderson, then Pat Neshek immediately gave up a run-scoring
double to Austin Jackson.
Anderson (1-2) allowed three home runs,
matching a career high. He was tagged for seven runs, eight hits and
three walks in 5 2-3 innings.
Derek Norris hit a two-out RBI single in the second, and Hunter tied the game at 1 in the top of the third.
Hunter's first homer since signing with
Detroit during the offseason was a memorable drive that landed a few
rows shy of the glass luxury suites high in the left-field seats.
"I never really got into a rhythm,"
Anderson said. "Solo home runs don't usually beat you. The three-run
homer was kind of the tip of the iceberg. That's a good lineup. I made
some mistakes and they made me pay for them."
The short-handed A's were forced to
shuffle their outfield because Crisp is nursing a strained left groin
and left fielder Yoenis Cespedes was placed on the 15-day disabled list
with a strained muscle in his left hand.
Omar Infante singled in the fourth for a
nine-game hitting streak as the first five batters of the inning
reached base against Anderson.
Crisp is expected to sit out Sunday again. ... Tigers RHP reliever
Octavio Dotel will rest his inflamed elbow again Sunday. "It's better to
miss one or two days than miss three months," he said. ... Peralta hit
just his second homer in Oakland. ... The Tigers will skip RHP Rick
Porcello's turn in the rotation. He was scheduled to pitch Tuesday at
Seattle, but Doug Fister will now go that day. Detroit has a day off
Monday, and Leyland said that factored into the decision. ... Coke
missed Friday's game with an illness. After arriving at the ballpark, he
was sent back to the hotel. ... Detroit C Alex Avila, who took a foul
ball off his right shin and was hit in the head with a bat on a follow
through Friday night, had the day off. "I told him (Leyland) I'm fine,"
Avila said. "Play me every day." ... The A's sold out for the second
time in 2013. ... Lowrie struck out with the bases loaded for the 15th
time in his career.