Rangers stymied by sharp Verlander
Perez limits Tigers to four hits, but three are solo homers
DETROIT -- Rangers pitcher Martin Perez had not been on the losing side of a game he pitched since May 27. It took a superior effort by one of the best pitchers in the game to put him there.
Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander was dominating for seven innings and the Rangers stumbled into the All-Star break with a 5-0 loss Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
The Rangers finish the first half by losing four of their last five games. They are 54-41 and in second place in the American League West. They have been in second place for 13 straight days and this is the first time in four seasons the Rangers have not been in first at the All-Star break.
Verlander allowed just one hit, three walks and three strikeouts before leaving the game with a tight right quad muscle. Verlander had a no-hitter going for 6 2/3 innings until Mitch Moreland smashed a two-out double in the seventh. Verlander was trying for the third no-hitter of his career.
"I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit," Moreland said. "I wasn't trying to be the guy. As an opponent, you don't want to be in that situation. Everybody knows what's going on. We know we can hit and we have confidence in ourselves. There was no panic; we just couldn't put anything together."
The Rangers managed just two hits on the afternoon in getting shut out for the fifth time this season. But it also marks the 31st time they have finished with two runs or fewer in a game this season and they are 3-28 in those games.
"Verlander was Verlander," designated hitter Adrian Beltre said. "He threw more breaking balls today but it was the same Verlander. We squared some balls up and hit them right at people but you can't control that. Verlander is still a pretty good pitcher."
The Rangers' only other hit was a single by Geovany Soto in the eighth off reliever Drew Smyly. The Rangers were held to just two hits for the first time this season and the first time since James Shields shut them out last Sept. 9 in Tampa Bay. Verlander came within seven outs of being the fourth pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Rangers and the first since Mark Buehrle with the White Sox on April 18, 2007.
"I thought he pitched an excellent game against a very good team that beat us up a little bit last night," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "This is a team that knows how to win; they're really good. To shut that lineup down, that's pretty impressive."
Verlander, who threw 105 pitches, is now 8-3 with a 2.67 ERA in 13 career starts against the Rangers. He has the second-lowest ERA against the Rangers among active pitchers with 10 or more starts. Shields has a 2.66 ERA in 12 starts against them.
"My stuff wasn't great," Verlander said. "My offspeed wasn't very good at all today. My saving grace was that I had good fastball control. I didn't get a lot of punchouts because my offspeed wasn't very crisp. But I was able to locate my fastball, and the ones they hit -- they did hit a couple hard -- but the ones they did put in play were usually kind of weak, either popped it up or rolled it over and hit a ground ball."
Perez allowed only four hits in 5 2/3 innings but three of them were home runs and the other was a run-scoring single. This was his first loss in five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22. He also had won four straight starts at Round Rock prior to being brought up to the Major Leagues. His last loss was a spot start for the Rangers against the D-backs on May 27.
"When I saw the way Verlander was pitching, I knew I had to do the same," Perez said. "I was throwing good ... a couple of pitches up."
Torii Hunter jumped on one of those pitches, hitting a 2-2 curveball into the left-field seats for a home run with one out in the first. Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta added back-to-back home runs in the fourth.
"Perez just has to execute pitches," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That's what he did well in those other starts. Today he didn't execute some pitches and it came back on him. He has great stuff and excellent mechanics, he just needs to execute."
The Rangers trailed, 3-0, going into the bottom of the sixth when Perez walked Hunter and Miguel Cabrera to start the inning. He retired Prince Fielder and Martinez on fly balls but Peralta singled up the middle to bring home Hunter. Cory Burns took over and allowed an RBI single to Matt Tuiasosopo to make it 5-0.