Verlander remains hitless, but Tigers win

Verlander remains hitless, but Tigers win

Published Jun. 9, 2012 7:37 p.m. ET

Justin Verlander's long nightmare continues.

No, not his winless streak. Although that extended to four starts on Saturday,
he won't mind after the Tigers walked away with a 3-2 victory in Cincinnati.

Besides, Verlander pitched fairly well, yielding two runs in six innings. His
only problem was the 34 foul balls that Reds hitters managed, driving up
Verlander's pitch count.

Verlander's disappointment? He didn't end his career-long hitless streak.

The only player in major league history with two more no-hitters than hits hit
a soft line drive to first base in his first at-bat, then laid down a sacrifice
bunt the next time up.

"I thought maybe I'd get to swing away, because I put such a good swing on
the first one," he told FOX Sports Detroit after the game. "That was
almost my first double. Well, my first knock, anyway. No go, though."

Verlander badly missed on his first two attempts at the bunt, but dropped an 0-2
pitch down the third-base line. The bunt was good enough that he momentarily
had dreams of a bunt single to break his slump.

"I was running hard because I thought it was going to be a tough
play," he said. "Then I saw the second baseman catch the ball, and I
wondered why I had been running so hard. They don't mess up sacrifice bunts at
this level."

Verlander is now 0-for-21 since getting his first at-bat at Wrigley Field on June
17, 2006. He struck out in 13 of those at-bats, but still believes that he's
got talent with the stick.

Before Saturday's start, he talked about the danger of hitting a home run at
tiny Great American Ball Park, saying that he needed to be careful about posing
too long, since the pitcher might retaliate against him.

Verlander didn't have to worry about that on Saturday, despite his ambitions.
But he's been lobbying to pitch Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, which
would be his normal day to start. That would give him another shot at offensive
glory, instead of making his next appearance under AL rules Friday at Comerica

That would involve the Tigers skipping rookie Casey Crosby, but with Verlander
throwing 127 pitches on Saturday, manager Jim Leyland might give the 2011
American League MVP and Cy Young an extra day of rest with a Friday start. Verlander’s
pitch count was significantly elevated when Delmon Young lost a routine fly
ball in the sun, leading to Cincinnati's only two runs.

"Verlander was really terrific, but what you saw from him today was what
you saw early in his career," Leyland said. "He spent himself too

"When he got through the third inning on six pitches, I thought things
were set up perfectly for him. Then the next inning was a disaster with the way
they fouled off pitches. Give them credit."

The Reds scored their runs in the fourth inning. With a runner on first, Young
botched Joey Votto's fly ball, putting runners on second and third with no one

Verlander retired the next two batters, but walked Ryan Ludwick before giving
up a two-run single to Todd Frazier on a 101-mph fastball.

"That was tough because I got the two outs, and if I could have gotten out
of the inning, we would have kept the momentum," Verlander said.
"Still, I gave us a chance to win, and we took it.

"If we're going to be a good team, and I think we are, these are the type
of games we have to win. We need to win 2-1 or 3-2, and that's what we did