Detroit’s Verlander out-pitches Weaver in win

DETROIT — Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver were both going after their 15th wins of the season Sunday at Comerica Park and it was Verlander emerging victorious in a 3-2 victory.

In fact, Verlander nearly picked up his second no-hitter of the season in leading the Tigers past the Angels. He wound up with a one-hitter in eight innings of work.

Verlander is 15-5 with a 2.24 ERA while Weaver is 14-5 at 1.88.

It was a high spirited game in many areas, highlighted by Weaver’s ejection in the seventh after throwing a pitcher over the head of Tiger batter Alex Avila.

“You have two teams fighting for a playoff spot,” said Tiger third baseman Don Kelly. “This is the way it’s going to be for the rest of the season.”

The Tigers are 57-51 and in first place in the American League’s Central Division with a 1 1/2 game lead over the Cleveland Indians coming into the game.

The Angels are 59-50 and trailed first-place Texas by two games in the West Division entering the game.

Magglio Ordonez gave Detroit a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third with a two-run home run for his fourth homer of the season.

Ordonez was watching to see if the ball was going to stay inside the foul pole but it appeared Weaver was thinking the Tiger outfielder was showing him up. Weaver retired the next 13 batters before Carlos Guillen blasted his second home run of the season for a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh.

On the next pitch, Weaver threw over the head of Avila and was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt, who had warned both benches after Guillen stared down the Angel pitcher while rounding the bases. Weaver allowed four hits and fanned eight batters.

“What Guillen did, I thought was a little too much,” Weaver said, adding that on the pitch to Avila, “I tried to throw a fast ball in and it got away from me.”

“You’re out there giving everything you’ve got,” Verlander said. ‘”Obviously it was a big game for both teams. Sometimes it’s hard to control your emotions. We did a great job not letting it get to us and come away with a W.”

Erick Aybar laid down a bunt to open the eighth inning. Verlander fielded the ball cleanly but threw wild to first base for an error. Aybar scored later in the inning when he beat a rundown between third base and home plate. Izturis followed with an RBI single, making it 3-2.

Verlander admitted having some negative thoughts about Aybar trying to ruin the no-hitter with a bunt. But others weren’t quite sure.

Aybar said he was trying to start something offensively with the bunt.

“I don’t have power,” he said. “He pitched good today.”

“I have no problem with that play,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s trying to get on base. Justin and Jered were pumped up. It was friendly competition between two great American League pitchers.”

Verlander left after eight innings and Jose Valverde picked up his 28th-straight save in the ninth inning.

“The ball was coming out of my hand really good,” Verlander said. “It had good carry to it. I had a good live arm (Sunday). I felt really good.”

It marks the first time Verlander has notched his 15th win prior to Aug. 1.

Meanwhile, Leyland was upbeat in talking about the Tigers’ two acquisitions for their pitching staff from Seattle over the weekend. The Tigers figure they have their fifth starter in Doug Fister who was 3-12 with the lowly Mariners despite an ERA of 3.33. He’s been pegged to be the starting pitcher Wednesday night against Texas.

The other pickup from Seattle is David Pauley, who has a 2.15 ERA in 54 innings pitched and 13 earned runs and a 5-4 record. He’ll be in the bullpen.

The Tigers remember both hurlers very well.

Fister, “we think is a very good Major League pitcher who will be very good for our club,” Leyland said. “We’ve got some pretty good depth built up with the (Jacob) Turners, (Andy) Olivers and (Duane) Belows.”

Pauley, Leyland said, “has a good changeup, uses both side of the plate and has good control. We liked him. He has a good presence on the mound.”

Fister will be under contract with the Tigers for a few years and seems to give the Tiger a set starting rotation for a few seasons.

“I hope it’s my rotation,” Leyland smiled, alluding to the fact that his contract ends at the end of the season.

Tiger general manager Dave Dombrowski has been “tireless” in making deals trying to better the team, Leyland said.

“He’s trying to help us and we’re certainly grateful for that,” he said. “This was an interesting (trade) for us because we’ve known Fister. We know Pauley a little bit. A lot of guys we can’t comment on.

“We think we made a nice deal. But it still lies on the guys that are in the clubhouse and me and the coaching staff.”

To get Fister and Pauley, the Tigers gave up pitcher Charlie Furbush, third baseman prospect Francisco Martinez and outfielder Casper Wells.

“We lost a good prospect at third base but we think we have a helluva prospect at West Michigan,” said Leyland, referring to Nick Castellanos. “I saw the Castellanos kid and he’s a blue chip prospect. We’re happy. You’ve got guys on this team that have to contribute and you have guys that have to carry your team. That’s the way it is with other teams too.”

Leyland admitted, however, that he’s still waiting for his bullpen to find its identity.

“We’ve never really got in sync the way you’d like to get in sync, for obvious reasons,” Leyland said. “We’ve had a problems getting into a real good flow with that bullpen. Hopefully these last two months we can have that settled and get some consistency there.”

 

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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