DENVER -- Justin Verlander turned back the clock Wednesday, throwing six innings of one-run ball as the Tigers beat the Rockies, 6-2, at Coors Field.The former American League MVP kept the Rockies off balance all afternoon, giving up just three hits, and at one point the righty retired eight straight
DENVER -- Justin Verlander turned back the clock Wednesday, throwing six innings of one-run ball as the Tigers beat the Rockies, 6-2, at Coors Field.
The former American League MVP kept the Rockies off balance all afternoon, giving up just three hits, and at one point the righty retired eight straight batters. Verlander's fastball, once one of the best in the game, touched up to 95 mph and he struck out nine.
"I feel like my stuff was good," Verlander said. "I was able to get swings and misses, weak contact. Really only one hard hit ball all day, and it ended up leaving the yard. Other than that, it was the results you were looking for. Six innings, one run, we won the ballgame -- I'll take it."
With the loss, the Rockies' lead for the second National League Wild Card fell to three games, as the Brewers won earlier Wednesday over the Cardinals.
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Outfielder Charlie Blackmon provided a solo home run, his 32nd of the year, and shortstop Trevor Story doubled home a run in the ninth for the only Rockies runs.
"[Verlander's] been who he is for a long time, and today was what I've seen and other teams have seen for quite some time," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's a legit No. 1 type of pitcher. He's proved that over the course of his career."
Rockies starter Chad Bettis struggled In his fourth start since returning from cancer treatment. Bettis pitched well his first two starts but has given up 10 runs in 10 innings over his last two.
"He was behind in the count right from the get-go," Black said of Bettis. "His strength is spotting the fastball, mixing in the change, keeping the ball down and getting those grounders."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Career first: Verlander not only impressed on the mound, but at the plate. The American League veteran got the Tigers on the board in the second inning with a run-scoring single up the middle, driving in catcher James McCann. It was Verlander's first RBI in his 13-year Major League career.
"I told him before the game, 'Hey, today's a National League game. Your goal is to drive in more than you let in,'" McCann said. "He drove in one, let in one, so I guess I'll give it to him."
Career high: The Tigers led all afternoon, but McCann's three-run homer in the fifth gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead, padding Verlander's already-solid performance. McCann's long ball was his 13th of the year, breaking a tie with his previous career-best of 12 last season.
"The three-run homer was the back-breaker," Black said. "He had McCann 0-2 and here it is in the fifth inning, if [Bettis] does get him there, it's two runs through five innings ... and probably gonna go back out there for the sixth."
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"He's been taking BP now for a few days. He was very excited yesterday when we were unsure if Miggy [Jose Cabrera] would be available to pinch hit, so I told him to have his spikes on. He generally leaves early if we have a day game the next day to get some rest, but he didn't want to leave early just in case I still needed him to hit." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, on Verlander's approach to hitting in Interleague Play
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The Rockies finish August with a 12-15 record, their first losing month of the season and first since September of last year.
Tigers: The Tigers come home Friday to host Cleveland in a split twin bill, with the first game at 1:10 p.m. ET. Matthew Boyd climbs the hill for the opening game. He pitched economically in his last outing, but fell prey to a five-run frame that earned him the loss, allowing five total runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven over six innings.
Rockies: The Rockies have Thursday off, but begin a three-game series with the D-backs on Friday at 6:40 p.m. MT in a matchup between the top two NL Wild Card teams. In one of the biggest late-season series in recent Coors Field history, Denver native Kyle Freeland (11-8, 3.81 ERA) will get the nod against Taijuan Walker (7-7, 3.55 ERA).
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Rockies on Wednesday.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Tigers on Wednesday.