DETROIT -- The Tigers mounted their 7-4 walk-off win over the White Sox on Sunday without the usual help from starter Justin Verlander, who left early for precautionary reasons due to a tight right groin.The 34-year-old righty underwent an MRI, which revealed no structural damage. Verlander will be re-evaluated as
DETROIT -- The Tigers mounted their 7-4 walk-off win over the White Sox on Sunday without the usual help from starter Justin Verlander, who left early for precautionary reasons due to a tight right groin.
The 34-year-old righty underwent an MRI, which revealed no structural damage. Verlander will be re-evaluated as the week progresses, and his next start is to be determined.
Manager Brad Ausmus reiterated that pulling Verlander was a move made simply to avoid risking anything worse.
"I just felt like we had to protect him a little bit," Ausmus said. "He didn't want to come out. He said he felt like he could keep pitching, but I didn't want him to be protecting his groin and then have something else be affected, like his shoulder or something like that. That was my call."
Verlander labored through a 39-pitch first inning, but left the bases loaded and escaped with only one run allowed. Before he went back out for the second, he talked to pitching coach Rich Dubee, which led Ausmus to keep an eye on his ace.
Amid a lengthy second inning, Ausmus and trainer Kevin Rand went out to speak to Verlander, who then struck out Avisail Garcia to again strand the bases loaded. But after a home run from Todd Frazier and a four-pitch walk to Yolmer Sanchez to lead off the third, Verlander's day was done.
He finished with six hits and two earned runs allowed in two-plus innings, and threw 72 pitches. It was Verlander's shortest start since Aug. 11, 2014, when he lasted one inning against the Pirates and threw 40 pitches, allowing five runs.
Catcher John Hicks said he didn't notice anything off about Verlander early on, adding the ace was making good pitches.
"They battled," Hicks said of the White Sox, who fouled off 20 pitches the first two innings, including 12 in two-strike counts. "Made that first inning tough on him, and he pitched out of some big jams."
Verlander still cranked his fastball up to 97.5 mph, and kept it mid-90s for the most part, according to Statcast™, but he wavered in his final at-bat. He threw four fastballs to Sanchez, none of which topped 93 mph.
With the Tigers' off-day Monday, there's a chance Verlander can take extra rest before his next start, if needed.
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit.