The Detroit Tigers won their 6th straight game today by edging the Braves 2-1. Justin Verlander pitched 7 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits while piling up 11 strikeouts. That was the second highest strikeout total of his career; the first highest being the 12 K's in his no hitter two starts ago. I did not see the game because it was blacked out in Massachusetts but it sounded like he was nearly as tough as he was in his no hitter. The Braves had been shutout two straight games coming into this series so we don't want to get too giddy but it looks like Verlander may be turning the corner from very good young pitcher to dominant ace.
The Tigers scored their first run in the second inning when Carlos Guillen walked, went to second when Pudge Rodriguez was hit by the pitch by Kyle Davies and scored on a single by Sean Casey. They went up 2-0 when Carlos Guillen hit his 12th home run of the year in the 4th inning. The Braves scored their only run on a homer by Chipper Jones in the bottom of the 4th.
A 2-1 lead never feels comfortable with the Tigers bullpen but they were sharp today. Tim Byrdak allowed a double to Matt Diaz to start the 8th but then struck out Kelly Johnson. At that point, Fernando Rodney came in and retired the last two batters of the inning. Todd Jones then had a relatively easy 9th inning allowing just one walk. Seeing Rodney and Jones routinely get the last 5 outs was encouraging as that sort of thing has not been happening too often lately.
It was a rough day for Curtis Granderson who struck out 4 times. Granderson, who has struck out at a rate of more than one a game in his career seemed to be making some progress in that area as of late. He had struck out just 11 times in his previous 22 games. Hopefully, this was just one bad game. When he does make contact, he does a lot of damage as he is still second in the league behind Magglio Ordonez with 44 extra base hits.
Magglio Ordonez played today after leaving yesterday's game when he was hit by the pitch. He went 1 for 4 this afternoon.