–RHP Justin Verlander became the first Detroit pitcher to win 12 games before the All-Star break since RHP Jack Morris in 1987. Verlander fanned nine, gave up six hits and an unearned run and threw 119 pitches in 7 2/3 innings on a hot, humid day in Kansas City. “I really just tried not to do too much,” said Verlander, who threw more off-speed pitches than fastballs for a change. “I wanted to take it easy and leave something in the tank for when I needed it. I knew it would be a grind out there as hot as it was. I really took my time between pitches.” It was the 38th straight start in which Verlander has thrown 100 or more pitches. “No matter where I look,” manager Jim Leyland said, “our bullpen, their bullpen, in the stands, I’m not going to find anybody better than him. He’s going to be out there. He was fine.” Leyland took Verlander out with runners on first and third, two out and a run in on 3B Brandon Inge’s throwing error. Verlander has allowed two runs or less in his last nine starts.
–CF/RF Casper Wells started in center and led off in place of injured CF Austin Jackson, scoring both Detroit runs. Wells doubled in the fourth and scored on a single by LF Brennan Boesch, then walked with one out in the sixth, stole his first base in the majors and scored on a two-out single by RF Magglio Ordonez. “They gave me the steal sign and I was telling everyone in the dugout it was my first career stolen base and everybody was like, ‘Really?'” said Wells, who noted he changed shirts several times during the game due to the heat. Wells shifted to right when Jackson came in for defense in the eighth.
–RHP Jose Valverde wasn’t supposed to pitch but still wound up grabbing his 24th save with some help from a rookie baserunning mistake. Valverde pitched three straight days, including saves of 24 and 31 pitches in the first two games against the Royals, after which manager Jim Leyland said his closer would have Saturday and Sunday off. But with a 2-1 lead and the ninth inning in need of a pitcher, there was Valverde warming up. He gave up a leadoff double to rookie 1B Eric Hosmer, who with one out was thrown out by All-Star C Alex Avila trying to steal third when he was already in position to score the tying run on a single. An easy groundout made All-Star Valverde 24-for-24 in saves this season. “Twenty-four-for-24,” Leyland said, “that’s pretty good. He’s done a whale of a job for us.”
–LF Brennan Boesch looks recovered from that nasty bruise he took on the inside of his right knee when he fouled off a ball. Boesch took a game off, went hitless Friday and then had three hits Saturday before driving in Detroit’s first run in the final game of the four-game series at Kansas City. In his next at-bat, he drove a ball to the center-field fence, where it was caught.
–RF Magglio Ordonez drove in Detroit’s second run in a 2-1 victory with a line single to center in the sixth. Ordonez has now hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games. Manager Jim Leyland is playing him roughly two out of every three games to keep him strong and sharp while at the same giving playing time to other outfielders.
–RHP Joaquin Benoit only faced one batter but struck him out after setting him up. Benoit, who got Saturday off, came in to relieve RHP Justin Verlander with runners at third and first and two out in the eighth. He threw mainly fastballs to DH Billy Butler but went outside with a 3-2 slider to strike him out and end the inning.
–LHP Charlie Furbush was optioned to Class AAA Toledo after getting pounded Saturday night, with no assurance he’ll be coming back to fill the opening in Detroit’s rotation. “He’s going to start Thursday in Toledo,” manager Jim Leyland said after Furbush, making his second major league start, got pushed around for nine hits and nine runs (five unearned) in 2 2/3 innings. “After that we’ll play it by ear.” Furbush didn’t pitch as aggressively in his second start as he did in his first, falling behind hitters regularly, and saw five stolen bases in his starts because it takes him way too long to deliver the ball with runners on base.
–2B Danny Worth was brought up to give Detroit some offensive and defensive flexibility. Worth, who hit .310 in limited playing time earlier in the season, was brought in as a defensive replacement for 2B Ryan Raburn in the seventh inning. He flied to center in his only at-bat. Worth can play second, short and third for Detroit, and having an extra player will give manager Jim Leyland more pinch-hitting and substitution possibilities.
BY THE NUMBERS
38 — Consecutive starts of throwing at least 100 pitches for RHP Justin Verlander. The last start in which he did not reach 100 pitches came when he was not allowed come out following a rain delay.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” — RHP Justin Verlander, to 3B Brandon Inge as he left the game with two out in the eighth. Inge’s two-out throwing error had just let in the only Kansas City run of the game and cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1, but RHP Joaquin Benoit got the final out of the inning and RHP Jose Valverde got his 24th save to close out Verlander’s 12th victory.
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