MINNEAPOLIS -- The eighth inning Justin Verlander pitched in Detroit's 2-1 loss to Cleveland Thursday impressed manager Jim Leyland so much that he said it was the best inning of baseball he's ever seen pitched.
"We were talking after the game, a bunch of us, that we think that was the best inning ever pitched in a game," Leyland said. "I've never seen an inning like that in the history of baseball. In 49 years, I've never seen anything like it."
It wasn't just that Verlander struck out the Indians in order, it's the way he did it. Verlander registered triple digits on the radar gun, throwing pitches 100, 101 and 102 mph, but also managed to drop a nasty mid-80s curveball into the mix.
Verlander is 5-2 this season with an ERA of 2.15 and has 75 strikeouts in just over 75 innings. Verlander has pitched at least six innings in all 10 of his starts and already has two complete games this season.
The debate of whether Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball is already decided in the mind of Leyland.
"I don't see anybody better, he's the best. I've never seen anybody better," he said.
Jackson may not miss more than minimum
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers are crossing their fingers, but if all goes well over the next week, Detroit should have Austin Jackson back in the lineup next Friday, when the Tigers host the Yankees.
Manager Jim Leyland said the results of an MRI Jackson had in Detroit show no additional signs of injury other than what the medical staff had believed to be an abdominal strain.
"Nothing different from what the medical people predicted, which was a sigh of relief," Leyland said.
Jackson was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday, retroactive to May 17. He is back in Detroit rehabbing the injury and could rejoin the Tigers as early as Monday when Detroit heads to Boston for a series with the Red Sox.
"He is probably going to come to Boston to do some activity, not to play. We might be shooting for next weekend against the Yankees. We don't know if there will be something before that if he was able to get a couple of at-bats somewhere, we don't know the answer to that," Leyland said.
Jackson is off to a hot start this season and his absence has hurt the Tigers. He is hitting .331 with five home runs, 17 RBIs and 10 doubles. Jackson also leads the team with six stolen bases.
Detroit did get the services of one of its regulars back, when Ryan Raburn was reinstated from the bereavement list. Raburn missed the recent series with Cleveland to return home to Florida following the death of his grandmother.
Raburn was back in the starting lineup, batting ninth and playing second base in Friday's series opener against Minnesota at Target Field.
Despite struggles, Leyland sticks with lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's no secret that the Tigers have struggled on offense this season, especially with two outs and runners on base. Even so, don't expect manager Jim Leyland to drastically alter his lineup, he is sticking with what he's got.
Leyland said it's time for the Detroit lineup to "sink or swim."
Despite his hitters' struggles at the plate this season, Leyland said people have to remember this is much the same lineup that produced 95 wins a season ago.
"There's nobody else. That's our team, I like our team," Leyland said. "We are racking our brain to try and get some offense going. There is no secret to it, the guys we've got have to produce."
Detroit's lack of offense reared its head most recently against Cleveland when the Tigers stranded 10 runners on base for three consecutive games.
One offensive piece missing from last year's team is Victor Martinez, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the offseason and will miss the 2012 season. Leyland said Martinez was a clutch hitter who produced some big hits last season.
"One thing we've missed this year is exactly what Victor did -- big two-out hits and knock in runs. He is a great two-out hitter. We haven't been getting that from anybody. I have to do better and the players have to do better," Leyland said.
Detroit is not the only team struggling at the plate this season according to Leyland. He said a lack of offense seems to be contagious throughout baseball in 2012.
"It's going around baseball pretty good," he said. "There are a lot of guys not hitting."
Joe Kieser is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.