The Tigers wasted an outstanding effort from Justin Verlander, in which he allowed only two runs and six hits in a complete game. (As the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant points out, that’s the first time Verlander pitched nine innings and took a loss.)
Verlander didn’t allow any runs until the seventh inning, when the Rangers broke through on a RBI double from Michael Young. Mitch Moreland added another RBI double with two outs in the inning, driving in Young.
That’s all the Rangers needed, as the Tigers’ lineup offered no resistance against Alexi Ogando, making only the second start of his career.
But maybe that’s not giving Ogando enough credit. He pitched six shutout innings in his debut versus the Seattle Mariners, and added seven more Monday at Comerica Park. Not only has Ogando allowed no runs in two starts, but he’s only given up four hits in 13 innings. The Mariners were expected to have a bad offense this year, but how about the Tigers? Their lineup is presumed to be the team’s strength.
Ogando may have pitched a complete game himself, having thrown only 79 pitches after the seventh inning. But he developed fluid under a callous on his right index finger and was taken out of the game. Unfortunately, the Tigers didn’t fare much better against relievers Darren Oliver and Neftali Feliz.
Detroit did muster a threat in the ninth inning against Feliz. After a Ryan Raburn double, Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked. Putting the tying run on base intentionally is normally an eyebrow-raising move, but Cabrera is 1-for-3 versus Feliz with a home run, so perhaps Ron Washington didn’t want to take a chance.
That gave Victor Martinez an opportunity to show exactly why the Tigers signed him in the offseason, to protect Cabrera in the lineup and punish teams for not pitching to the Tigers’ first baseman. Unfortunately, Martinez grounded out to second base on a 2-0 pitch to end the game.
The loss drops the Tigers to 3-7, keeping them in last place in the AL Central. The Rangers, meanwhile, improve to 9-1. That’s the best start in franchise history and also currently the top record in the major leagues.