DETROIT (AP) — Ron Gardenhire continues to be impressed every time he sees Justin Verlander pitch.
The Detroit ace shutdown Gardenhire’s Twins allowing just four hits in a 5-1 victory on Wednesday night.
“To me, watching that kid is like watching Jack Morris — once he gets going, he’s going to finish you off, just like Jack used to do,” he said. “Believe me, when I compare someone to Jack Morris, that’s a compliment. He’s the best pitcher I’ve been around, and he should be in the Hall of Fame, and Verlander is on the same path.”
Verlander pitched his fifth complete game of the season and allowed only one run and a walk.
“You know you have to get to him early, because he just gets better and better as the game goes on,” said Ryan Doumit, who went 0-for-3 and grounded into a double play. “We didn’t do that, and once he gets going, he’s got four high-quality pitches that he can put anywhere he wants.”
If Verlander didn’t cause the Twins enough problems, Detroit’s other two All-Stars helped out. Prince Fielder hit a two-run double in the first, while Miguel Cabrera went 3-3 with two homers, three RBIs and three runs.
“We talk about the two guys that you don’t let beat you, but Fielder drove in two runs and Cabrera drove in three,” Gardenhire said. “I think Cabrera saw two fastballs all day, and one went over the center-field fence and the other went over the right-field fence. That’s not smart pitching.”
The game, which was delayed two hours and 26 minutes, ended Minnesota’s five-game winning streak.
Twins starter Brian Duensing (1-5) pitched well into the fifth, but left the game after being hit on the left ankle by Alex Avila’s sharp grounder. Duensing sustained a bruised left ankle, but X-rays were negative.
“It’s a shame, because he was throwing the ball really well,” Gardenhire said. “Luckily, nothing is broken, so we’ll just take it day by day. Luckily, he’s got some extra rest because of the break, and he’s probably going to need it.”
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the first when Fielder’s one-out double scored Ryan Raburn and Cabrera. Detroit, though, wasted scoring chances in the third and fifth innings by hitting into inning-ending double plays.
Meanwhile, the Twins didn’t get a baserunner until Denard Span’s single to lead off the fourth. Chris Parmalee got Minnesota on the board with a homer off Verlander in the fifth, but Cabrera answered with a 429-foot shot into the shrubs above the center-field fence.
“It’s hard to get one out to center field here, because it is so big,” he said. “When you see one go into those bushes, you are like ‘Thank God.'”
Cabrera added a two-run homer in the seventh off Cole De Vries, who was pressed into service as a reliever even though he was scheduled to start on Saturday in Texas. Gardenhire said after the game that he will now start Sunday.
NOTES: Span is now hitting .395 (15-38) in his career against Verlander. … Through three games of the series, Verlander is the only starting pitcher to get through the fifth inning. … Austin Jackson, considered one of the biggest snubs for the All-Star game, went 3-3 with a walk, raising his batting average to .329. “I wish he was going to Kansas City with us,” Verlander said.
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