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Justin Verlander stymies Tigers in Astros' 9-3 victory

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

DETROIT — Before the game Sunday, Tigers manager AJ Hinch talked about the challenges his young team faced against a decorated and esteemed pitcher like Justin Verlander.

“The major thing about facing a guy like that is controlling your emotions,” he said. “It’s exciting to face someone as premier as Justin. He’s going to bring a ton of energy and a lot of fanfare.

“There is a mystique and an aura about facing somebody like him.”

There was mystique and aura, sure, but there was also a riding four-seam fastball, a biting slider and knee-buckling, 12-to-6 curveball that belied an arsenal of a 41-year-old pitcher who was tagged for seven runs in eight hits in five innings in his last start.

Something about Comerica Park seems to bring out the beast in Verlander, who shut down the Tigers for seven innings, helping the Astros take the rubber match in the series, 9-3.

He started the game Sunday with 14 straight outs before rookie Colt Keith, who was 4 years old when Verlander debuted with the Tigers, beat out a 46.5-mph dribbler to the left side of the infield for the Tigers’ first hit with two outs in the fifth.

 

Baseball irony: In Keith’s first at-bat, he scorched a fastball, 104-mph off the bat, 383 feet to the cutout in right-center. That ball landed in Kyle Tucker’s glove.

The Tigers managed to load the bases against Verlander with two outs in the sixth inning without the benefit of a hit. He walked Carson Kelly and Riley Greene, then hit Mark Canha with a curveball.

But Matt Viering, jumping on a first-pitch slider, lined out to left.

The only other smudge on Verlander’s ledger was a one-out double by Andy Ibanez in the seventh. He finished with eight strikeouts.

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