DETROIT – On Wednesday, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander reaped accolades for his sensational performance following a no-hit bid that was broken up in the ninth inning during the Tigers' 5-0 victory. The inspired outing left little doubt that the 32-year-old ace was rounding back into form, and it even prompted some to wonder what could have been had the team not resorted to selling at the trade deadline, just as he was starting to show signs of a resurgence.
It seemed a moot point for Ausmus, who said he had not been part of that decision-making process. It was futile to second-guess after the fact.
Hours later, any residual momentum from Verlander's sparkler was effectively snuffed out as the Tigers were shut out by Michigan native Matt Shoemaker. The Los Angeles Angels pitcher delivered an impressive outing at Comerica Park on Thursday afternoon, handing Detroit its sixth loss in the past seven games.
The 28-year-old Shoemaker, who hails from Wyandotte, Michigan, and played college ball at Eastern Michigan, stifled the Tigers' top-rated offense, pitching 7⅓ scoreless innings and allowing no runs and just one hit and one walk in 95 pitches.
Shoemaker located his fastball and mixed in his curveball, but it was his splitter that was particularly effective. Overall, he kept the Tigers off balance.
"He'd miss and then he'd paint one. And then he'd miss and paint another one," Tigers outfielder Tyler Collins said. "It was just tough to get comfortable against him today."
The Tigers received quality pitching as well, with 39-year-old veteran Randy Wolf on the mound in his second start since being acquired last week. Wolf was crafty in his approach, executing his game plan and locating all four of his pitches.
Recording his second quality start, Wolf allowed one run on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings against the Angels.
Ausmus said he was "outstanding."
"He never gives in," Ausmus said, lauding Wolf's preparation. "He has an exceptional game plan going in. He does a lot of the pregame planning himself, as opposed to relying on the pitching coach or the catcher."
Wolf was encouraged by Thursday's outing, especially following last Saturday's start -- a gritty, resilient performance and one in which he was battling the nerves of someone returning to the majors for the first time in more than a calendar year.
"I feel like every start, I kind of have to, in a way, prove people wrong that I'm not at the geriatric level quite yet," Wolf said.
Offensively, the Tigers threatened late in the game when J.D. Martinez hit a one-out triple to center, but the outfielder was left stranded as reliever Joe Smith fanned Nick Castellanos and catcher Alex Avila grounded out.
After a three-homer showing in Wednesday's victory, the Tigers' bats yielded little. Wolf did his part in giving the team seven innings, but the offense was dormant. Both Miguel Cabrera (11 games) and Ian Kinsler (eight games) saw their hitting streaks come to an end. Victor Martinez finished 0-for-3.
"Randy gave us a great chance to win the ballgame," Martinez said. "But offensively, we couldn't do anything."