video thumbnail

KC@DET: Verlander tosses eight innings, fanning seven

DETROIT -- From nine runs and 14 hits on Tuesday, to two runs and four hits on Wednesday. With Justin Verlander on the mound, the Tigers couldn't capitalize, as the offense came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Royals before a crowd of 33,187 in the series finale.

Verlander delivered eight strong innings, allowing only two runs on six hits, but the Tigers' bats -- despite tying the game late -- couldn't support the ace. Detroit dropped to 2-7 in its past nine games at Comerica Park.

Through seven innings, the Tigers mustered only two hits, as a combination of four Royals pitchers -- including starter Jonathan Sanchez, who kept the Detroit hitless through 4 2/3 innings -- held them scoreless.

"[Tuesday] we started out with four or five hits in the first inning -- boom, boom, boom, boom, boom," manager Jim Leyland said. "And today we can't get more than that for the whole game. That's just the way the game is."

Down 2-0 in the bottom of the eighth, Austin Jackson singled off Royals reliever Aaron Crow. Two pitches later, Brennan Boesch belted a game-tying two-run home run. However, Joaquin Benoit took over for Verlander in the top of the ninth and gave up the go-ahead run.

Mike Moustakas doubled with one out and advanced to third on a ground ball. No. 8 hitter Chris Getz gave the Royals a 3-2 lead after legging out an infield single in an eight pitch at-bat, during which he fouled off six pitches.

"The only thing that could happen that might hurt you is just what happened," Leyland said. "He hit it in the hole and [shortstop Jhonny Peralta] couldn't throw him out."

Peralta ranged far to his right to make the stop and had no chance to get the speedy Getz. Verlander didn't allow the hit, but shared a pitcher's mindset in a situation where a batter keeps fouling off pitches.

"You've got to never mentally give in as a pitcher during those at-bats, because that's what he's looking for," Verlander said. "You get a little frustrated because he's fouling balls off, fouling balls off, and then you give him one he can hit. Unfortunately, it wasn't right at Peralta, but that was a heck of an at-bat by [Getz]."

Jonathan Broxton shut the door in the ninth to preserve the Royals' first win against the Tigers this season.

Despite "not having his best stuff", Verlander did everything in his power to keep the Tigers within striking distance. In six of his eight innings, Verlander worked out of jams with runners in scoring position.

"It was kind of a battle for me [all day]," Verlander said. "I really felt like the changeup wasn't that great today, the curveball wasn't really sharp, and the fastball control wasn't that great. From pitch No. 1, [I was] just trying to find it and get it going a little bit."

Verlander began with a leadoff walk to Jarrod Dyson that plagued him. Dyson stole second and advanced to third on a ground ball. Verlander struck out Billy Butler, who entered Wednesday with a .372 career average against him, but threw a bad pitch that Eric Hosmer laced for an RBI double.

Verlander said it was the only pitch he really "kicked himself in the butt for."

"I was trying to go inside there, and the ball ends up outer half and belt high," Verlander said.

The 1-0 lead stood until the Royals tacked on another in the top of the sixth inning. Alex Gordon singled and came around to score on Jeff Francoeur's grounder, although the damage could have been worse with runners on second and third.

"Any time you can scrape up a couple of runs on Verlander, that's good," Gordon said.

Verlander's outing ended after eight innings and 123 pitches. He concluded his day by striking out the heart of the Royals' order -- Gordon, Butler and Hosmer -- with a runner on third. Boesch's home run took Verlander off the hook for his first loss to the Royals since Sept. 9, 2009.

The Tigers had two other opportunities to score. Alex Avila doubled off Sanchez to break up the no-hit bid in the fifth, as Sanchez loaded the bases with two walks before getting a groundout to escape the jam. Brad Eldred hit a double two innings later to put runners on second and third, but the Tigers had the same result.

"With this lineup, I don't think we're really worried about it," Verlander said. "I think once we really get rolling and start hitting the ball every day [we'll be fine]. That's not my job to worry about run support. My job is to win baseball games, and obviously two runs was too many to give up today."

MLB.com Comments