After losing five out of their last seven games including squandering a four-run lead last night, the Tigers needed a big performance from their ace Justin Verlander tonight. Once again, Justin responded with a superlative performance pitching the Tigers to a 6-0 shutout over the Diamomdbacks. It was one of his most dominant performances ever as he struckout a career high 14 batters in eight innings. He allowed just four hits and one walk and lowered his season ERA to 2.38
As is often the case, the fireballing right-hander saved some of his best stuff for late in the game. After allowing the first two batters to reach in the eight inning, creating a runners on second and third and nobody out jam in the eighth, he proceeded to strikeout the side. The Brooks Baseball Pitch f/x chart below shows that some of his fastest pitches came in that eight inning. He averaged 95.2 MPH on his fastball, but reached as high as 99.5 MPH in his final frame.
Verlander did not need much offensive support tonight, but he received plenty of it anyway. The hitting hero was catcher Alex Avila, who knocked in four runs with a home run, a double and a single. The young backstop did look silly in the eighth when he thought he had his second homer of the game, failed to run the bases at full speed and was thrown out at second. At first glance it appeared that he may have been hurt, but it became clear that everything was fine when his teammates teased him in the dugout.
The win moved the Tigers back into a first-place tie with the Indians. Verlander can't pitch every night, so they are going need some better starts from a struggling staff in upcoming games. Brad Penny opposes Joe Saunders in the rubber game of the series tomorrow afternoon.
For tonight though, Mr. Verlander was a pleasure to watch and the final three outs of the eighth inning were breathtaking. You can not help looking forward to his next start.