Justin Verlander has had excellent stuff all year and it was just a matter of time before he started getting results. Today, he out dueled the Indians Cliff Lee as the Tigers defeated the Indians 3-1. Verlander allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings, striking out 11 and walking three along the way. Today's strong performance came on the heels of an equally impressive game versus the Yankees the last time out. Justin now leads the league with 45 strikeouts and 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
The Tigers bullpen preserved the victory with two scoreless innings. Especially impressive was a perfect ninth from Fernando Rodney who now has six saves in six opportunities. Fernando has not been dominant but has benefitted from much improved control so far and has allowed just one walk in ten innings.
Joel Zumaya came on to get the last out of the eighth with two men on base. When the season started, I wasn't counting on Zumaya for anything given his health history but he is already playing an important role. Zoom is another pitching who is having success by avoiding walks - no walks and no runs in five innings so far.
Offensively, Brandon Inge blasted his eighth homer of the year in the second inning tying him with Curtis Granderson for second in the league. Granderson broke up a 1-1 tie with an RBI double in the seventh inning giving him two consecutive game winning hits. His 155 extra base hits since 2007 is best in the American League.
Miguel Cabrera did not participate in the scoring but got three more hits today to raise his batting average to .393. That is second in the league to Kevin Youkilis.
The victory gave the Tigers a series win over the Indians this weekend. The Tigers had a rather sloppy week filled with errors, batting slumps and bullpen implosions but they managed to go 3-3 and they have a share of the lead in the crazy American League Central. Of course, four teams are within a game of first place. Next up is a two game series at home versus the Twins.