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Seattle Mariners

Detroit’s Verlander puts stranglehold on M’s

Reliever Jose Valverde reacts after saving Detroit’s victory over Mariners. (Associated Press)
Reliever Jose Valverde reacts after saving Detroit’s victory over Mariners. (Associated Press)

DETROIT – There were few surprises for Mariners hitters Thursday night, with Justin Verlander chewing them up as he does so many teams.

Verlander is one of the game’s premier pitchers, and once he got on a roll, the game was pretty much over after the Detroit Tigers’ four-run fifth inning. Indeed, the only real surprise in a 4-1 loss by the Mariners was the sight of Doug Fister still on the mound in the eighth, the final time the Tigers came to bat.

Considering all the work Fister did early to keep his team in it, being out there with a pitch count less than 90 ranked as one of those unheralded victories for a pitcher who continues to give reasons to look at him differently.

“That’s our mentality, to go out there and throw nine innings every game,” said Fister, who threw only 87 pitches in the complete-game loss. “So, whether it happens or not, it’s a matter of how the game progresses. But it’s the same mentality every time.”

Still, having the mentality is one thing. Going out and doing it is something else.

The usually reticent Fister admitted “it was a positive” to go the distance on a night he twice had to strand runners on third with fewer than two outs early on. He nearly did it again in the fifth after the Tigers had scored to tie it 1-1 on the second triple of the game by Alex Avila.

But after notching two outs to hold Avila at third, Fister surrendered a go-ahead single to Don Kelly. Then, with the count 1-1, he tried to jam Brennan Boesch with a cutter inside, only to catch too much plate and see the southpaw slugger pull it over the right-field wall.

The way Verlander was pitching, en route to 10 strikeouts over eight innings, most of the announced 22,090 at Comerica Park knew the game was over. The Mariners dropped their third game in four tries on this trip, but didn’t get any harsh words from manager Eric Wedge about their offense afterward.

This loss was simply a matter of Verlander taking over.

“It’s not fun at all,” said Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, who had two of his team’s five singles. “He’s throwing the kitchen sink and his fastball’s 98 (mph). So, you’re facing closer stuff and a pitcher, too.”

Verlander walked one, lowered his earned-run average to 2.89 and allowed the only Seattle run on a wild pitch in the fifth.

“When he’s at his best – I’ve seen him too many times over the years when he’s at his best – he’ll get stronger like that as the game wears on,” Wedge said. “He was better late than he was early, and I thought he was good early, too. It was just one of those days.”

• Box score: Scoreboard, B6

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