DETROIT (AP) -The
learned what the
New York Yankees
discovered six days earlier:
is back to his dominant form.
Verlander struck out 11 and
delivered another go-ahead hit as the
beat the Indians 3-1 Sunday.
Verlander (2-2) allowed one run and two hits in seven innings, finishing up by escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam.
Last Monday, he fanned nine in seven shutout innings against the Yankees.
''This is certainly the best I've felt in a while,'' he said. ''This is why I worked so hard in the spring to get back to
my natural arm angle. It wasn't easy - I felt like I was throwing sidearm for a week when I had only moved it an inch - but
it is paying off.''
After winning Rookie of the Year in 2006 while leading the Tigers to the World Series, Verlander seemed to have an unlimited
future when he went 18-6 in 2007 and pitched a no-hitter against Milwaukee.
Last year, though, he finished 11-17. He then allowed 24 runs in 21 innings over his first four starts this season.
''I thought Justin was brilliant,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''I think he answered some questions and answered some
Verlander finished up his 121-pitch outing by escaping a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the seventh with the score tied at
After Shin-Soo Choo walked to start the inning,
lined a double down the right-field line. Leyland then had Verlander intentionally walk
to load the bases.
''A lot of times, they will have you walk someone and then take you out, so I looked over to the dugout,'' Verlander said.
''When I didn't see Jim, I knew I had to focus on getting outs.''
popped out to shallow right on Verlander's next pitch,
took a called third strike in his third major-league at bat and
said he didn't consider hitting for LaPorta or Valbuena, even though both were playing their first major league games of the
''If I didn't want them to hit against Verlander in that situation, I wouldn't have started them against him,'' he said. ''They
both had good at-bats, but didn't get anything out of them.''
and Granderson started the Detroit seventh with consecutive doubles. Granderson, who hit a go-ahead eighth-inning homer in
Saturday's win, later scored on
's single through the drawn-in infield.
(1-4) has already lost more games this season than he did last year, when he went 22-3 and won the AL Cy Young Award. Lee
gave up three runs and 12 hits in seven innings, and left with a 3.92 ERA - last year, it was 2.54.
''Verlander pitched very well, but it is my job to keep us in games,'' Lee said. ''I was mostly happy with what I did, but
it wasn't enough. Sardinha hit a good pitch, so did Granderson and Magglio hit a bouncer in the right spot.''
The Indians put two runners on against
in the eighth, but
came in to retire
pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
Detroit missed out on a scoring chance in the first when
was thrown out at the plate on an infield grounder, but the Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the next inning on
's long homer, his eighth.
's RBI single - Cleveland's first hit - tied it in the third, but Lee and Verlander didn't allow another run until the seventh.
''This is a really good win for us,'' Leyland said. ''It was dictated by pitching, just like most games.''
Notes: LaPorta made his major league debut, playing right field and taking a called third strike in his first at-bat. ...
thought he had an extra-base hit in the sixth, but Granderson ran it down in the right-center field gap, causing Martinez
to slam down his helmet in frustration. ''I thought that was in the gap for sure,'' he said. ... The Tigers are now 4-0 on
Sundays, a welcome change for Detroit fans. The Pistons and Lions combined to go 4-27 on Sundays last season.