Saturday, August 27, 2011
Justin Verlander earns 20th win of season
Justin Verlander didn't waste any time in his quest for 20 wins. In his first start since picking up his 19th win on Monday, Verlander rallied from a rocky outing and picked up his major league-leading 20th win Saturday in a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
Verlander threw 120 pitches over six innings and allowed eight hits, four runs (all earned), and three walks.
For the second time this season, Verlander allowed back-to-back home runs. On April 22, Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko did it in the seventh inning for the Chicago White Sox.
Verlander is the first to reach 20 wins before September 1 since Curt Schilling in 2002 and the first AL pitcher to do it since Roger Clemens in 1997. This is the first 20-win season for Verlander.
Verlander has won his last seven road starts. That's the longest road win streak by a Tigers starter since Jack Morris won seven straight road starts in 1981.
A next-level look: Verlander survived a rough day with his fastball. Twins hitters had six hits and three walks in 17 plate appearances ending with Verlander's fastball, the second-most hits Verlander has allowed off his fastball this season.
Verlander threw a season-high 64.5 percent of his fastballs in the strike zone, which resulted in five of the Twins' hits, including Luke Hughes' home run.
Verlander countered his struggles with success with his offspeed pitches. He threw his second-lowest percentage of offspeed pitches in a start this season, but Twins hitters were 2 for 10 in at-bats ending with his curveball, slider and changeup. He threw 32 of his 44 offspeed pitches on the outside part of the plate and the Twins were 1 for 6 with two strikeouts in at-bats ending with offspeed pitches away.
Verlander has now won his last 15 starts in which the Tigers have scored three or more runs.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last pitcher to win at least 15 straight games when his team scores three or more runs was Joaquin Andujar, who won 18 in a row for the Cardinals in 1985.
ELSEWHERE AROUND MLB:
• Matt Kemp hit a walk-off home run, his third of the season and fourth of his career to lead the Dodgers to a 7-6 win in 11 innings over the Rockies. Kemp's three walk-off home runs are the most by a player this season. James Loney helped force extra innings with his game-tying home run in the ninth, his eighth home run this season.
• Jim Thome homered on his 41st birthday to lead the Indians to an 8-7 win over the Royals. According to Elias he is the third Indians player to hit a home run at the age of 41 or older (Dave Winfield and Sam Rice). The only other player in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to homer on their 41st birthday was the Tigers' Darrell Evans (May 26, 1988 versus the Brewers).
Jacob Nitzberg contributed to this story.