Justin Verlander has had an off-season, to say the least, but Friday night, he looked like he is returning to form. One day after Dave Dombrowski's biggest trade deadline move yet, Verlander struck out five and did not give up a walk in 8 strong innings as the Tigers downed the Rockies in the first game of this interleague series 4-2.
The scoring got started in the fifth when Rajai Davis singled to center, scoring Bryan Holaday and Eugenio Suarez. The next batter, Ian Kinsler, doubled to left, scoring Davis, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
The Rockies answered back as Verlander got into a bit of trouble in the seventh, as Wilin Rosario singled to left, scoring Justin Morneau, and Josh Rutledge grounded into a fielder's choice, driving in Brandon Barnes from third. But Verlander settled down with runners on second and third and struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
The Tigers answered back in the bottom half with a sharp single to center off the bat of Victor Martinez, scoring Davis for a 4-2 lead. Verlander struck out Barnes to end the eighth, and Joe Nathan came in for the ninth and recorded his 22nd save in 27 opportunities. Verlander moved to 10-9 on the season and dropped his ERA to 4.66.
A note about Verlander's performance: Verlander broke a tie with Mike Maroth for the longest streak of starts allowing at least two runs in Tigers history with 22 (all of his starts this season). Mike Maroth set his record in the dismal 2003 season, and is the last pitcher to lose 20 or more games in a season.