Verlander, V-Mart turn away White Sox
DETROIT -- The Tigers' six runs over three innings spoiled Frankie Montas' first Major League start, and another strong outing from Justin Verlander powered Detroit to 7-4 win over the White Sox on Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park. The result earned a series split for the Tigers after they were swept in Monday's doubleheader.
Designated hitter Victor Martinez opened scoring with a two-run blast off Montas in the first inning, and a ground-rule double off the bat of J.D. Martinez sparked a four-run rally in the third that ended the rookie's day. That output alone topped Detroit's four total runs over the previous three games of the series.
"[Verlander] has been very good his last few outings, and we as an offense haven't gotten a lot of runs for him," said catcher James McCann. "Thankfully, we jumped out to an early lead and never really looked back from there."
Verlander took advantage of the support, limiting damage to three runs in seven innings for his eighth quality start over his last nine appearances. He yielded a two-run homer to Melky Cabrera in the fourth and an Alexei Ramirez RBI double in the seventh before handing the ball to the bullpen with a four-run cushion.
"When he goes through the beginning of the game, he'll ease his way through it and pitch," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Verlander. "That's the biggest thing from the past is that he always had velocity early. Now he builds on that. Even when he got in a tight spot there in the end, he was able to find another gear and crank it up there in the high 90s."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mr. 200: With his first-inning home run, Victor Martinez became just the sixth Venezuelan-born player to reach the 200-homer plateau. He joins former Tiger Magglio Ordoñez and teammate Miguel Cabrera -- who tops his countrymates with 407 career bombs -- on the short list. Wednesday's line shot continued an impressive stretch for Martinez, who is hitting .314 over his last 15 games. More >
"We've looked at a lot of things with Victor," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Despite the off year for him, things had trended upward in a number of categories second half."
Mr. 100: Three innings after Martinez connected on his 200th, Melky Cabrera connected on a milestone of his own. Cabrera's first-pitch blast on a changeup from Verlander marked the 100th homer of his career. Verlander thought he had struck out Trayce Thompson on a 3-2 pitch in the previous at-bat, but home-plate umpire Tom Woodring did not agree. Cabrera drove in three with his 46th multi-hit game, scoring twice and finishing a triple short of the cycle.
Verlander escapes seventh: After the White Sox tallied three straight hits to make it 7-3 in the seventh, they sent Geovany Soto to the plate with the bases loaded and an opportunity to tie the game with a swing of his bat. Verlander turned up the heat, though, feeding the Chicago catcher five consecutive fastballs at 98 mph or better for the ace's eighth strikeout of the afternoon to remain in line for the win. More >
"He's got a knack for being able to turn it up a notch when the heat is on," Ausmus said. "In terms of velocity, probably the best velocity we've seen all year in that one inning. Prior to that, he pitched outstanding."
A few problems: It was not the cleanest game of the season for the White Sox. Jose Abreu was doubled off first in the opening inning on Thompson's line drive to center, a play where Abreu apparently didn't read the ball off Thompson's bat and then didn't run back to first, even though Anthony Gose's throw in bounced three times. Soto had a throwing error on a pickoff play at second base, and Mike Olt came up a bit short on his slide during a stolen-base attempt in the third.
STRANGE PLAY INDEED
Olt made a diving stop down the third-base line on Ian Kinsler's two-out grounder with Rajai Davis on third in the fourth. Olt got up and tried to throw in the same motion, causing the ball to be well off-line. It was off-target enough that pitcher Scott Carroll caught the ball near the mound instead of letting it go through toward first. The throw seemed to be affected by a sore right shoulder Olt felt on the diving attempt, as he left the game in the bottom of the fifth due to this issue.
"He felt his arm go a little bit numb diving," said Ventura of Olt's play. "It was an awkward dive. Throwing was going to be questionable at that point."
"It was great even though I didn't get the win. I had fun. It's a game, so I was just having fun." -- Montas, on his first big league start More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Davis' fourth-inning triple gave him 11 on the season, the most by a Tigers player since Austin Jackson also had 11 in 2011.
"Raj's speed is game-changing, when he's on the bases or puts the ball in play," Ausmus said. "You don't see many triples into the left-field corner at any ballpark."
White Sox: Chris Sale (12-10, 3.47 ERA) opens a four-game set at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night (6:05 p.m. CT), taking the mound for his 30th start. Sale needs just 11 strikeouts to break Ed Walsh's single-season franchise record of 269 strikeouts.
Tigers: After a day off, Detroit will welcome the Twins on Friday for the final series at Comerica Park this year. Matt Boyd (1-5, 7.40 ERA) has allowed three runs or fewer in his last two starts after an outing in which he was pulled before retiring a batter in the second inning. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET.
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