As expected, Justin Verlander pitched a great game Thursday, with an incredible career-high 13 strikeouts. Everyone’s been talking about Zack Greinke this season, but Verlander has thoroughly looked the part recently. After the crazy antics of the previous night, it wasn’t surprising that today’s game was a fairly low key affair at first, which the Tigers broke open in the sixth inning with five runs. But of course, this is baseball…
Tigers manager Jim Leyland took out Verlander in the seventh inning because he’d thrown 120+ pitches. He’d given up a Brian Buscher base hit and a Nick Punto walk (score: 5-0), but he still looked visibly upset, not surprisingly after such a domineering performance. Cue the Tigers bullpen meltdown, with the Twins scoring six runs to take a 6-5 lead, and just like that, Verlander doesn’t get a result, no more runs scored, and Joe Nathan had a quick and easy ninth to close out the game.
Despite the satisfaction of a series sweep against Detroit, the Twins now face a tricky set of games to round out May. 10 of their 17 upcoming games (without a day off) will be on the road, and their opponents will include the New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. Gulp. If Minnesota can make it through that bunch more or less around the .500 mark, I think they’ll have done a good job, but it will be a very testing end to the month for sure.
Minnesota secured its second series victory in a row last night with a walk-off 14-10 win in the 13th inning. They’ll be going for the sweep today, but runs will probably be a lot harder to come by what with Justin Verlander on the mound for Detroit.
It was a topsy-turvy game last night that took almost five hours to complete. The Twins gave up a 9-7 lead in the seventh inning, but Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to tie it 9-9. In the 13th, after hitting a lead-off triple, Curtis Granderson got a vital run due to Jesse Crain’s balk to make it 10-9, but the fireworks really started at the bottom of the inning. After Nick Punto scored on a Matt Tolbert single to level it, Joe Crede stepped up and hit a game-winning walk-off grand slam.
Tuesday’s game was a little more conventional. The Twins topped the Tigers 6-2, but it was by no means plain sailing. Kevin Slowey found himself pitching out of a jam quite a lot, but his persistence was encouraging, and he had a bit of run support this time round. When Delmon Young lost what looked like a fairly easy ball in the left field in the first inning, and Joe Mauer missed a home run by mere inches, it looked like it was going to be one of those games again, but Minnesota prevailed, and Joe hit a homer to pretty much the same place his next at-bat. Reliever Jesse Crain gave up a home-run with the score at 5-1, then followed that up with a walk which led to a chorus of boos, and his immediate removal, but luckily this time, Detroit didn’t get to exploit that lapse much further.
In other notes, it was nice to see Dontrelle Willis back on the mound for the Tigers, though the Twins line-up didn’t give him a particularly warm welcome! Still, he does bring a great deal of enthusiasm to the game and seems to really enjoy himself up there, despite his recent emotional problems. Of course, he won’t be judged on just this single outing, but how he performs the rest of the season. I remember watching him pitch for the Marlins back in the 2003 World Series. Even though I wasn’t really much of a baseball follower back then, he certainly left an impression.