The two highest scoring teams in the league opened up a four game series tonight and the Tigers prevailed over the Yankees 8-5. The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead when Carlos Guillen hit a grand slam in the first inning off Mike Mussina. Mussina lasted just 5 innings as the Tigers touched him for 7 runs on 9 hits. They had 10 hits in all including 2 apiece by Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez who also had a homer.
Justin Verlander allowed only 3 runs but continued to have problems with efficiency as he threw 119 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed 7 hits including a 2 run homer by Bobby Abreu in the 3rd. Verlander has a 5.14 ERA in his last 9 starts and his inability to pitch deep into games is becoming a problem. In his last 6 starts, he has failed to make it through 6 innings 3 times and he has been throwing a lot of pitches. He rarely gives up many runs and they usually win when he pitches (6 team wins in his last 9 starts) but he is forcing their bullpen to do a lot of work.
Other than the typical Todd Jones scare (when brought into a non-save situation), the bullpen was good tonight. Zack Miner and not Jason Grilli took the middle inning role tonight and struck out 3 while allowing just one base runner in 1 1/3 innings. Fernando Rodney continued his good work with three strike outs sandwiched around a walk and a single for one scoreless inning. Jones came in with a 8-3 lead and had an adventurous 9th inning allowing 2 runs on 3 hits but held on to preserve the lead.
The Indians were idle tonight so the Tigers took a 1/2 game lead in the AL Central race. Game 2 will be tomorrow night with Nate Robertson facing Andy Pettitte. It is unknown whether Placido Polanco, who missed another game tonight with a virus, will be ready for tomorrow's game. Hopefully he'll be back as a double play combination of Ryan Raburn and Carlos Guillen is not something I want to see (defensively) with Robertson on the mound.