The Tigers lost the first two games of their series with the Indians and their division lead dwindled to two games. Thursday, the Tigers looked to their ace to turn things around – and again Justin Verlander delivered.
After being given an early 4-0 lead, Verlander gave up three runs and it was a 4-3 game after three innings. Verlander did not let another Indian get into scoring position and struck out 10 batters in his seven innings as the Tigers held on for a crucial 4-3 win with help from relievers Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde.
Verlander became the first pitcher in the majors to reach 17 wins and pushed his career mark to 100-57. According to Elias, he is tied with Cliff Lee for the fifth-fewest losses at the time of his 100th win among active pitchers.
Fewest Losses at time of 100th win
A next-level look: Indians hitters missed on eight of their 11 swings against Verlander's change, the second-most misses by a Verlander opponent against his changeup in the last three seasons. The only team to miss more against his change was the Indians on June 14, who missed on 15 of their 20 swings. That gives them an astounding total of 23 misses on 31 swings (74.2 pct) against Verlander's change this season in two starts.
Since 2009, Verlander has 54 wins. Only CC Sabathia (56) has more.
It is also his fifth season with at least 17 wins – all before the age of 29. Elias tells us he is the seventh pitcher to accomplish that feat since 1969 – a list that includes Hall of Famers Catfish Hunter and Tom Seaver.
Finally, Verlander is the fourth Tigers pitcher in the Live Ball era to win 100 games in his first seven MLB seasons (Denny McLain, Tommy Bridges, Mickey Lolich).
Elsewhere around MLB:
• Down 5-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Diamondbacks rookie Paul Goldschmidt belted a two-run, pinch-hit, 450-foot home run off Houston’s Mark Melancon to tie the game. One inning later, Chris Young hit a game-winning, three-run homer as the D-backs captured a dramatic 8-5 win to up their NL West lead to one game over idle San Francisco. It was Young’s fifth career walk-off hit, all of them home runs.
• Albert Pujols entered Thursday’s game 5-for-42 (.119) against the Brewers this season. He responded with a 4-for-4 night, including a first-inning home run as the Cardinals avoided a sweep and cut the Brewers’ division lead to four games. Even with the loss, Milwaukee has won 13 of its last 15 games.