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VERLANDER LEADS TIGERS TO GAME TWO WIN & TWINBILL SPLIT.....Gm-1, Minnesota 3, TIGERS 2 (10-INN)...Gm-2, TIGERS 6, Minnesota 5;  T 9/29/09
Posted on: 09-29-2009

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>>caption:  "V" IS FOR VICTORY<<


    The Tigers began and ended Tuesday
with a two game lead over second place
Minnesota in the AL-Central race, but
Detroit's "Magic Number" to clinch the
division was reduced from six to four (with five games to play).
    Minnesota needed an extra inning to defeat Detroit 3-2 in the matinee half of
a day-night doubleheader caused by Monday night's rainout. The Tigers kept the
Twins from tying the division race by holding on for a 6-5 game two victory in the
regularly scheduled evening encounter.  


    The Twins halved the Tiger AL-Central lead to just one slim game with a pair of
T-10th runs to get a 3-2 Tuesday afternoon decision in the opener of the day-night
    Joe Nathan became a 30-30 man with 30-SV in 30 lifetime chances against Detroit
and he tied the Minnesota franchise record of 45 saves in a single season.
    You knew it was playoff-like baseball when Tiger rookie starter Rick Porcello
delivered a career-high 111-pitches. Porcello threw 74-strikes and battled until being
replaced after 6.1-IP (7-H & 1-W for 1-R/1-ER with 1-K) with two Twins aboard.
Reliever Zach Miner got out of that T-7th threat to give Porcello his second no-decision
in six starts (3-1) this month.
    The Tigers opened three of the first four innings with basehits off Minny
starter Nick Blackburn. Curiously, the only frame in which they didn't was the
B-2nd when Detroit scored to take a 1-0 lead. Gerald Laird was HBP with 1-out,
moved to third on a single to RField by Brandon Inge (which broke Inge's 0-for-15
slump) and Laird came home on an RBI-1B by Ramon Santiago that went off the
glove of Twins 1Bman Michael Cuddyer and rolled into short RField.
    The Twins tied the game 1-all in the T-5th when Tim Tolbert doubled to the
RField wall, was sac-bunted to third by Nick Punto and scored on a sac-fly to CField
by Denard Span.
    Blackburn caught stride after escaping the early trouble where Detroit stranded
seven men. Blackburn retired the final 12 men he faced in his 7-IP, tying his season
high of 111-pitches.
    The Twins ran themselves out of the T-9th. Alexi Casilla, who'd entered the game
game as a pinch-runner in the T-7th, doubled off the LField wall to open the inning.
Casilla was sac-bunted to third by Tolbert. Second Tiger reliever Brandon Lyon then
jammed Punto high and inside on a suicide squeeze play, Punto popped up the bunt
to Lyon and Lyon completed an inning ending double play by tossing to a retreating
Inge at 3Base to double-off Casilla.
    The Twins broke the deadlock in the T-10th when speedy Denard Span led-off
with an up-the-middle single under the glove of a diving 2Bman Placido Polanco. Lyon
(L, 6-5) wild pitched Span to second, wild pitched Span to third and Orlando Cabrera
singled Span home to make it 2-1. Minnesota then loaded the bases when Joe Mauer
walked, Carlos Gomez sac-bunted two runners up and Cuddyer was intentionally walked.
Cabrera then scored on a Delmon Young sac-fly to the deep RCField gap to put the
Twins on top 3-1.
    Curtis Granderson gave the Tigers a chance by clubbing a down-the-middle
Nathan fastball halfway up the RField seats for a B-10th lead-off homerun (#29).
Nathan then calmly retired the next three Tigers on a pair of flyballs and a groundout
to third by Detroit clean-up man Miguel Cabrera that ended the game.
    Third Minnesota pitcher Jon Rausch earned the win (6-3, 4-1 since joining Minnesota
in an August deal with Arizona) with 1.1-IP of scoreless relief.
    Inge went 2-for-4 and Granderson 2-for-5 at the plate for the Tigers.
    Span and Jason Kubel were both 2-for-4 for the Twins, each with an INF-1B
deflected off Porcello's body early in the game.
     The tight nature of the showdown saw Detroit go just 2-for-14 and Minnesota
1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
    The announced crowd was 35,243, although it appeared about 25-thousand
attended the day game.

Gm-1...10-INN...MINN    3-11-0, 10-LOB     (W) Rausch, 6-3; (S) Nathan, #45
                        DET       2-7-0, 8-LOB          (L) Lyon, 6-5

TIGERS MGR JIM LEYLAND:   "We let them off the hook early. We didn't take
advantage of our opportunities. We should've had three or four runs early, and
we didn't do it. And when you don't do that, it usually comes back to haunt you."

TIGERS RP BRANDON LYON:   ""I just went out there and didn't make the pitches
today. I don't know, I usually have better control than I did today. I didn't really
take control out there...Obviously, you don't want to do it, especially in that situation,
but it happened."

TWINS SS ORLANDO CABRERA:   "This is unbelievable. This is one of the best games
I've ever played in."

TWINS MGR RON GARDENHIRE:   ""It was everything it was built up to be. One heck
of a baseball game."


    In a must-win nightcap encounter, the Tigers hitched their wagon to the "Horse"
of the pitching staff and ace Justin Verlander delivered. Verlander bulldogged his way
through 8-IP and a season-high 129-pitches to equal his career-high in wins (18) in a
6-5 final.
    Verlander averaged 96.3-mph on his fastball including back-to-back 98-mph
fireballs on his final two pitches.
    Verlander was staked to a 5-0/B-3rd lead and had to hang on after yielding 4-R
over his final 3-IP. Fernando Rodney gave up 1-R in the T-9th for the save (#36).
    Detroit got its six runs on a pair of solo homeruns and a pair of 2-out, 2-run hits.  
    Miguel Cabrera led-off the B-2nd by clobbering a 2-1 pitch 410-feet into the LCField
    Magglio Ordonez made it 3-0/B-3rd with a 2-out, 2-R double into LField corner to
score Adam Everett and Placido Polanco (who'd both singled).
    Twins starter Brian Duensing was lifted after he'd walked the bases full (one intentional)
in the B-5th. On the first pitch thrown by Minnesota reliever Bobby Keppel, Brandon Inge
delivered a 2-out, 2r1B in the hole between third and short to plate Ryan Raburn and a
sliding Cabrera.  
    Verlander had retired five straight and 15-of-16 Twins when Minnesota broke through
with a pair of T-6th tallies. Minnesota got three consecutive 1-out hits. Denard Span
doubled and scored on an Orlando Cabrera RBI-1B. Cabrera went to third on a Joe Mauer
two-bagger and then came home on a sac-fly by Jason Kubel. Verlander struck-out Michael
Cuddyer on a 3-2 pitch to end a 33-pitch inning that put JV at an even 100-pitches.
    Minnesota inched within 5-4 with another pair in the T-8th. Span and Cabrera both
hit 1-out singles and moved up on a wild pitch. Span scored and Cabrera went to third on
Mauer's broken bat RBI-G'out to 1Base. Kubel drove in Cabrera by hitting a first pitch
double to LCField.
    Granderson's lead-off homerun (#30) in the B-8th on a 2-0 pitch traveled 373-feet into
the RField seats off fourth Twins reliever Matt Guerrier gave Detroit a 6-4 margin.
    Rodney replaced Verlander in the T-9th and yielded Minnesota's 5th-R before getting
the final out. However, this time poor Detroit defense rather than Rodney was the cause
of his trademark shaky save. Delmon Young led-off the T-9th with an INF-1B mishandled
by 2Bman Polanco. Then, with 2-outs (including a strikeout of pinch-hitter Jose Morales),
Nick Punto brought Young home all the way from 1Base on a double misjudged in CField by
Granderson. Grandy was playing shallow and broke back late on the flyball over his head,
which put potential tying run Punto on 2Base before Rodney retired Span on a flyball to
Raburn in LField that preserved the win.
    Verlander scattered 8-H with 0-W and 8-K and threw 87-strikes in the victory (18-9).
    Duensing, who entered the game with a 0.61-ERA in three prior appearances vs Detroit
this season, lasted just 4.2-IP to allow 5-R/5-ER on 7-H & 3-W for the loss (5-2). It was
Duensing's shortest outing since being promoted from the bullpen to the rotation on
AUG 22ND (eight starts).
    Polanco, Inge, Granderson & Everett were all 2-for-4 at the plate for Detroit.
    Orlando Cabrera went 3-for-4 while Kubel was 2-for-3 and Span 2-for-5 for the Twins.
    Although it looked like there were more people at the night game than at the day
game, the announced evening crowd of "tickets sold" was less at 30,240.
    The nightcap defeat was just the third for Minnesota in its last 15 games.  

           MINN     5-10-0, 5-LOB      (L) Duensing, 5-2
Gm-2...DET       6-12-0, 8-LOB     (W) Verlander, 18-9; (S) Rodney, #36    

TIGERS MGR JIM LEYLAND:   "It was a very important game after losing the first
one. I thought Verlander was the horse that he is and showed that tonight. With a
couple of big hits we got the win."

TIGERS SP JUSTIN VERLANDER:   "After the first game, this win was huge...I was a
little more amped up before the game. I kept it a low score for a little while and our
guys scored some runs, which was huge."

TIGERS CA GERALD LAIRD:   "It just shows what our guys got. We bounced back and
got the win."

TWINS MGR RON GARDENHIRE:   "There were innings where we didn't have much of a chance.
And, [Verlander] was still winging it at 98 after 120-some pitches. That guy's a stud."

TWINS SP BRIAN DUENSING:   "It could be worse. We could have went 0-2 today. It's tough
because as much as we try to gain ground it doesn't seem like we're getting very far. We
have to keep plugging away."


    Granderson is 10-for-19 (.526-BA) over his last four games. Six of those 10-H
are for extra bases (2-2B, 1-3B & 3-HR). Grandy has homered in three straight
games. In the 4-Gm spurt he has 5-R & 6-RBI.
    Cabrera (33) and Granderson (30) are the first pair of Tigers to reach the 30-HR
plateau in the same season since Dean Palmer (38) and Tony Clark (31) did it in 1999
in the final year at Tiger Stadium.
    Polanco matched his career-high of 147 games played (2002).
    Ordonez, who didn't play in the day game, ended a career-long 50-game streak
without multiple RBIs. Maggs' B-3rd 2r2B was his first multi-RBI performance since
a July 21st Grand Slam.
    Inge leads the Tigers with 25 multi-RBI games this year. Inge's 81-RBI are two shy
of his career-high (2006).
    Three of Lyon's five losses this season have been vs Minnesota.
    Lyon had only one wild pitch all year before he uncorked a pair in game one Tuesday.
    Verlander increased his MLB-leading strikeout total to 264.
    Verlander has thrown more than 100-pitches in all but five of his 34 starts this year,
two of those five being his first two starts of the season. Verlander has thrown 126 or
more pitches in four of his six September starts.
    Verlander's sixth start this season with no walks and at least 8-K is the most in
the majors.
    Verlander was 0-2 vs Minnesota this year entering Tuesday night's game. He's now
9-2 at home this year.
    AL batting average leader Joe Mauer went 1-for-8 in the doubleheader, but still has
a comfortable lead with a .367-BA as he seeks to become a 3-time bat champ.
    The 11-H & 10-H doubleheader made it eight straight road games where Minnesota
has collected at least 10 basehits.
    In game three of the critical series Wednesday night the Tigers are slated to throw
RHP Eddie Bonine (0-1) vs Twins RHP Carl Pavano (13-11). Splitting the season
between Cleveland and Minnesota, Pavano is 4-0 with a 1.69-ERA vs Detroit this year.



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