Verlander's CG can't shake Tigers' slump

Righty allows just four hits, strikes out eight in 1-0 loss to Orioles

May 14th, 2016

BALTIMORE -- The good news is that Justin Verlander's early-season wobbles have disappeared. The bad news is that the Tigers' losing ways have not.

Friday's 1-0 loss to the Orioles marked the second consecutive dominant outing from Verlander that ended without a win for the pitcher or the team. This time, both the right-hander and the Tigers took the loss. For Detroit, that meant three in a row and 10 in 11 games, dropping the Tigers (15-20) to a season-worst five games under .500.

"You're going to lose games 1-0 over the course of year," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus noted. "The timing isn't exactly great."

Verlander (2-4) went the maximum eight innings in Baltimore at a ballpark where he entered the game 7-0 with a tidy 2.84 ERA in his career. The Orioles had twice as many strikeouts (eight) as hits (four). Yet one hit was a home run by Adam Jones in the sixth inning. That blast doomed Detroit on a night its bats never generated a timely hit.

"It's kind of the typical baseball slump I guess," Verlander said. "It's testing us. I think we have the personnel, we have the guys to turn this around, but we need to do it in a hurry. We need to start playing well."

Verlander allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings in his previous outing, an 8-3 loss against Texas on Mother's Day.

"I thought it was similar," Ausmus said of Verlander's work Friday. "Similar stuff, similar results."

Verlander's performance had slump-busting potential. By riding his strong fastball and mixing up his pitches, Verlander tossed Detroit's first complete game of the season. In the process he lowered his ERA to 4.71. That's not a good number, but the trend works.

"Just trying to maintain that feel, execute all my pitches, throw strikes when I need to," Verlander said of his recent outings. "That's what I've been working towards, that's what I talk about. That's usually why it takes me a little bit to get rolling early in the season. I'm not quite as polished as I need to be. The last couple of [starts] I've turned the corner, felt great."

He didn't even fret postgame over the costly pitch to Jones even though the outfielder turned on a first-pitch fastball with one out in the sixth.

"It was a little up and away. I know he's an aggressive hitter. I can't regret the pitch that I threw. It's what I wanted to go with," Verlander said. "It's kind of one of those games where the first person to blink is going to lose. Unfortunately, it was me."

Unfortunately for the Tigers, they can't shake the current slump even as Verlander busts out of his.

"He goes the distance like that, throwing up all those zeros that he did," catcher James McCann said. "It would have been real nice to get that [win]."