Justin Verlander wasn’t at his best on Tuesday night, but he sailed through eight innings of two-hit shutout ball before giving up a home run to Eduardo Nunez to lead off the ninth inning and pull the Yankees within a run.
Jim Leyland went out to the mound after Nunez crossed the plate, testing the home crowd with thoughts that the club’s shaky bullpen might be forced into action, but returned to the dugout without taking the ball from his starter, much to the delight of the 42,970 on hand.
Unfortunately for the heart health of those in the metro Detroit area, Verlander lasted only eight more pitches, battling with Brett Gardner for the first out of the ninth, taking his pitch count up to 131 on the evening, and giving way to Phil Coke. The lefty– not usual closer Jose Valverde, who has been awful of late– came in to try and seal the deal for the Tigers, eventually getting there despite giving up back-to-back two-out singles to Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano, striking out Raul Ibanez swinging to end the game.
It was an uneasy end to a game that, for a long time, seemed to be on cruise control for Detroit– especially after New York starter Phil Hughes exited the game with back trouble, one out after giving up a Delmon Young home run to lead-off the fourth. Even though the Yankees received strong relief pitching from David Phelps, Clay Rapada, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain– who combined to give up just one run on four hits over five innings– and even though Verlander wasn’t quite his sharpest, striking out only three, things felt pretty good for Detroit most of the way.
And… y’know… entirely sharp or not, he was still Verlander.
Via Brooks Baseball.