Verlander Stymies Twins Offense
DETROIT (AP) _ The Minnesota Twins were the first team to clinch a postseason berth. They didn’t look like a playoff team Friday night.
The AL Central champion Twins managed only four hits against Justin Verlander and needed two errors in the ninth inning to avoid being shut out in a 10-1 loss to the Tigers.
“That was obviously a tough night,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was ejected in the sixth inning. “Verlander was the story. He just ate us up. We watched his last couple starts on TV, and he’s been doing that to everyone. Right now, his stuff is as good as anyone in the league.”
Verlander (18-8) improved to 5-0 in his last seven starts, which he attributes to a mechanical adjustment with his curveball.
“When I looked at their swings, I was able to adjust and attack the zone with my curve,” he said. “Now that I’ve had four or five starts since I got it back, I just need to get back to being able to use it earlier in games.”
Verlander struck out 11 to become the first Tiger to strike out 200 batters in consecutive seasons since Jack Morris in 1987-88. He is 12-3 at home this season, but won’t get a chance at 20 wins because of a 6-5 road record.
“I could have done it, but I needed to pitch a little better in a few games and I didn’t do it,” said Verlander, who is only scheduled to start one more game. “I do know that I helped the team this year.”
Jhonny Peralta drove in four runs while Miguel Cabrera had three hits and scored three runs for the Tigers, who have won six of their last seven.
Cabrera is hitting .329 with 36 homers, 122 RBIs and 108 runs, but isn’t willing to say this has been his best season in the majors.
“I don’t know. We’re not done yet,” he said. “When we are done, I’ve got to spend the offseason working to get better.”
Francisco Liriano (14-9) allowed two runs in three-plus innings before leaving the game with an illness.
“I’ve been sick for the last three or four days and it just got worse while I was out there,” he said. “I was getting dizzy, so I had to come out.”
Verlander struck out the side on 13 pitches in the second inning.
“His curveball was working all game, and when it is working, it is the best in the league,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s a great young pitcher with a chance to get better.”
Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the fourth to break the 0-0 tie, and Liriano walked Peralta before signaling to the Twins dugout that something was wrong. After a lengthy conference at the mound, both Liriano and shortstop Alexi Casilla left the game feeling ill.
“I’ve never had two guys get sick on the mound at the same time before,” Gardenhire said. “Frankie was throwing the ball really well. All he gave up was a homer to Cabrera, but he looked pretty bad. We decided to take him out, and I looked over at Alexi, and he didn’t look any better.”
The Tigers broke the game open in the sixth. Ryan Raburn and Cabrera started the inning with singles off Jeff Manship, and Peralta followed with a single to make it 3-0.
Casper Wells then hit a grounder over third base that was grabbed by a fan in the stands down the left-field line. Third base umpire Tim Tschida quickly called fan interference, but home plate umpire Tim Timmons ruled that Peralta’s run counted and Wells was entitled to a triple. Gardenhire was ejected moments after returning to the dugout.
“It’s a judgment call and they made a judgment,” he said. “I stopped arguing when I went back to the dugout, but (bench coach) Steve Liddle was still yelling and they threw me out. My coaches thought it was very entertaining, but I don’t think they will want to pay my fine.”
Brennan Boesch followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-0, and Peralta and Wells hit back-to-back homers in the eighth.
The Twins ruined Verlander’s fourth career shutout with two out in the ninth, thanks to two Detroit throwing errors and Michael Cuddyer’s RBI single.
NOTES: Brandon Inge struck out twice, leaving him one short of Lou Whitaker’s franchise record of 1,099. Inge has played in 1,288 career games, as opposed to Whitaker’s 2,390. … C Joe Mauer will sit out the Detroit series to rest a sore knee, but could play Monday in Kansas City. DH Jim Thome sat out the game with back stiffness. … Gardenhire said after the game that, while he hopes to get 1B Justin Morneau back, he doesn’t think there is time for the slugger to recover from a concussion in time for the postseason. Morneau has been sidelined since sustaining the concussion while sliding into second base in Toronto on July 7. .. Verlander has struck out at least 10 batters four times this season, including two of his last three starts.