It was just one pitch, but Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers can only hope it turns out to be a turning point in their season.
Verlander turned in one of his most effective outings this year and once again beat the White Sox, leading the Detroit Tigers past Chicago 7-1 Friday night.
The right-hander showed some of his former Cy Young form, particularly to wiggle out of a jam in the first inning. After Verlander’s wild pickoff throw set up a sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn, Verlander reached back to strike out Tyler Flowers on a 95 mph fastball and leave the bases loaded.
“Yeah, you can’t put your team in a 3-0 deficit right away,” Verlander said. “I made a bad throw to allow those guys to score an easy run. Once the bases are loaded, you’re thinking, ‘All right, just leave the damage where it’s at and make a pitch here.’ ”
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was also glad to see Verlander get out of the tough spot.
“I’ve always said the first inning is the toughest inning for a starter,” Ausmus said. “To get out of the inning was very important.”
The contending Tigers won for the fifth time in six games and took the lead for the second wild card.
Verlander (12-11) beat the White Sox for the 14th time in 18 decisions since June 10, 2009 – the most wins by any pitcher against a single team in that span.
The former A.L. MVP allowed one run and nine hits in seven innings. It was the first time this year that he allowed fewer than two runs .
Verlander matched his season high with eight strikeouts and walked two. Seven of the strikeouts came in his last three innings.
J.D. Martinez had a double and two singles for Detroit. The Tigers got 13 hits, including five doubles.
Scott Carroll (5-9) took the loss but didn’t get much support in the field. He allowed seven runs, only three of which were earned.
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3: Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley homered, and visiting New York defeated Toronto.
Chris Capuano (2-3) pitched 6 1/3 innings in his first win in seven starts since joining the Yankees. The veteran left-hander was acquired last month in a trade with Colorado.
David Robertson got the final four outs for his 35th save in 38 chances.
Jose Bautista homered and Dioner Navarro had three hits, but the Blue Jays dropped to 7-17 in August. Mark Buehrle (11-9) pitched six-plus innings while falling to 1-13 in his career against New York.
Indians 6, Royals 1: Carlos Santana, who homered five times at Kauffman Stadium in a series last month, hit a two-run homer as Cleveland beat the Royals at Kansas City, Missouri.
The loss cut the Royals’ lead to a half-game over Detroit in the A.L. Central.
Santana connected in the ninth inning for his 22nd home run, helped Cleveland win for the fifth time in six games.
Boosted by his big four-game set in July, Santana is 14 for 26 with six homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.269 slugging percentage this season in Kansas City.