–RHP Justin Verlander didn’t exactly struggle, it just seemed like it. Verlander has lasted at least six innings and thrown 100 pitches in all 31 of his starts this season, and those streaks remained in effect during his 22nd victory of the season. It was his 10th straight winning start the most by a Detroit pitcher since LHP Hal Newhouser in 1946. Verlander allowed just three hits, but two of them were two-run blasts by 1B Shelley Duncan.

“They didn’t have many hits,” manager Jim Leyland said, “they just happened to hit a couple out of the ballpark that accounted for a couple runs.”

Verlander walked two and struck out eight. He couldn’t get into a rhythm in the first two innings, but after that, his curve improved and his changeup got better. Like all of Detroit’s starters, he’ll get an extra day off between starts since the Tigers don’t play Thursday.

–DH Victor Martinez hit a game-changing grand slam in the seventh inning to fuel Detroit’s 8-6 victory at Cleveland, as the Tigers completed sweeps of the White Sox and Indians in back-to-back series. “When you’re doing something to help the team win, it always feels great,” Martinez said. “I went to that at-bat, I looked for a fastball, a pitch that I can drive, and he gave me a good one.” Martinez drove in 10 runs in the three games, hitting his ninth and 10th home runs of the season and upping his season RBI count to 89.

–RHP Jose Valverde tied RHP Todd Jones’ Tigers record for saves in a season with his 42nd, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve Detroit’s 8-6 victory over Cleveland and RHP Justin Verlander’s 22nd victory. Valverde got all three outs on a split-finger fastball, one of them a strikeout. Valverde has yet to blow a save chance this year, and he is 44-for-44 dating back to last September. Jones set the franchise save record in 2000.

–2B Will Rhymes was deprived of an RBI when his double in the fifth inning bounced over the center field fence, stopping SS Ramon Santiago at third. Rhymes also walked and reached on an error as part of manager Jim Leyland’s plan to load his lineup with left-handed bats against Cleveland RHP Justin Masterson. Rhymes is in his third tour with Detroit this season and is on the bubble as far as next year is concerned.

–SS Ramon Santiago filled in for SS Jhonny Peralta and had a single and two walks. He has hit well and played well defensively with increased action due to Detroit’s lack of a regular second baseman. He’s pulled the ball and gone the other way, depending upon what the situation has called for. His contract is up at the end of the season, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Detroit try to sign him to another two-year deal.

–LF Andy Dirks beat out an intended sacrifice bunt for a single to load the bases in Detroit’s big five-run seventh. Dirks messed up his first bunt attempt but got the second down gently, and it went about halfway down the third base line, with Dirks beating the throw for a single. His previous at-bat, he struck out with runners on second and third and one out. He will play a prominent role the rest of the season now that RF Brennan Boesch is out following surgery on his right thumb.

BY THE NUMBERS
25 — RBI by DH Victor Martinez with the bases loaded this season. His grand slam gave Detroit a 7-4 lead in a game it won 8-6 over Cleveland, making him 9-for-15 in those situations this year.

QUOTE TO NOTE
“He didn’t waste any time. He got a pitch to hit and he jumped on it. That’s what he does. He’s a big-time hitter in big situations.” — Manager Jim Leyland, on the grand slam hit by DH Victor Martinez that put Detroit ahead, 7-4, for the first time in the game. Martinez hit a first-pitch fastball thrown by Cleveland LHP Tony Sipp.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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