DETROIT -- Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander doesn't necessarily believe in the BABIP (batting average on balls put in play) gods, the deification of the law of averages on fluke hits. All he knew about his first inning on Tuesday night was that if it kept going, with five consecutive hits
DETROIT -- Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander doesn't necessarily believe in the BABIP (batting average on balls put in play) gods, the deification of the law of averages on fluke hits. All he knew about his first inning on Tuesday night was that if it kept going, with five consecutive hits to open the game, it wouldn't matter what kind of pitches he'd make.
"The first two guys hit the ball decent," Verlander said after a 5-3 win over the Royals. "[Jorge Bonifacio] pulled a curveball down the line. And then after that, what are you supposed to do? It's probably three of the worst-hit balls that you can have in a row go for hits."
Lorenzo Cain hit a relatively soft line drive into short right field. Eric Hosmer hit a liner into left-center. Salvador Perez hit a blooper into short right for a two-run single and a 3-0 lead with Verlander still seeking his first out.
A younger Verlander might have started pumping fastballs, working quickly, building frustration. Older Verlander tried the opposite and kept the faith.
"You just kind of pull from your experience there," he said. "It could've been real easy to let that fall apart in a hurry, but I was able to slow the game down a little bit and see the bigger picture, and realize it's just the first. Those balls weren't hit well. There's nothing you can really do about that but just bear down and try to keep the damage to a minimum."
Verlander did that, retired the side in order, and scattered four singles and a walk over the rest of his seven-inning outing. He also watched the BABIP gods pay him back when Perez's drive to right-center became a Michael Mahtook highlight catch at the wall.
"I think everything ends up even in the end," Verlander shrugged, "but this game is funny that way."
Verlander didn't have the nasty stuff from his start last week at Seattle, where he took a perfect game into the sixth inning. But he had enough to overcome those hard-luck hits in the Royals' first inning, plus 14 foul balls over the first two innings, to log seven quality innings with six strikeouts for his first win since May 20.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.