The star right-hander doesn't seem too concerned about taking the mound Tuesday night when he tries to extend his recent dominance over the visiting Minnesota Twins .
Verlander (2-2, 1.95 ERA) allowed two runs and eight hits against Kansas City on Thursday, but left with a 3-2 lead after the seventh inning with what appeared to be a blister on his pitching thumb. Detroit's bullpen gave up the tying run in the eighth and five in the 10th of an 8-3 loss.
Verlander, meanwhile, doesn't think it will be an issue."It developed a little in my last start. Started getting a little bit worse after the fifth, and I started to notice it," Verlander said. "I didn't want to risk it becoming something that I might have to deal with in my next start and the start after that, and then it turns into a month. This way, it isn't an issue. That's why I got out of there."
The problem was later deemed a crack in the skin near his fingernail.
"He's dealt with it before," head athletic trainer Kevin Rand told the Tigers' official website. "Basically, it's a crack in the skin just like regular people working outside. Unfortunately, the location of it in the thumb area caused him to not be able to pitch coming out in the eighth inning."
Of more concern for Verlander and manager Jim Leyland might be the play of his teammates when their ace pitches. In addition to the bullpen's struggles in his last appearance, Detroit (14-10) has been shut out in two others.
Verlander has not needed much support while winning seven straight starts against the Twins (11-11) and has gone 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA in nine since a 2-0 loss to them at Comerica Park on April 27, 2010. He allowed four hits and struck out seven in five scoreless innings of a 4-2 season-opening win at Minnesota.
Twins star Joe Mauer is a lifetime .373 hitter with three homers against Verlander. However, he's gone hitless (0 for 19) in five straight games for first time during his stellar career after an 0-for-4 effort in Monday's 4-3 loss to the Tigers.
Prince Fielder hit a towering three-run homer in the sixth to help rally his team from down two runs in the series opener. Miguel Cabrera , who hit a three-run homer in Sunday's 8-3 win to complete a sweep of Atlanta, had his 12-game hitting streak snapped.
Fielder is 3 for 20 (.150) in his last six games but batting .343 (12 for 35) with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 10 games against the Twins at Comerica.
He's 2 for 6 with a double against scheduled Minnesota starter Vance Worley (0-3, 6.38), who allowed three runs in six innings of the opening-day loss to Verlander.
The right-hander gave up 14 runs in six innings over his next two starts but has yielded three in 12 frames of the last two. He allowed two runs in five innings of a 2-1 loss to Texas on Thursday.
"Worley's had a couple starts where he didn't look like he had a whole heck of a lot, but he made it through five innings just by battling," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website.
Worley is 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA in 10 starts since he won at Washington on Aug. 1 while with Philadelphia.
|April 16, 2013||Wilkin Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Back contusion|
|April 16, 2013||Darin Mastroianni||15-Day DL||Stress reaction in left ankle|
|March 30, 2013||Cole De Vries||15-Day DL||Right forearm strain|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|April 21, 2013||Octavio Dotel||Day-to-Day||Elbow inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Octavio Dotel||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|April 09, 2013||Victor Martinez||Day-to-Day||Lacerated right thumb|
|March 22, 2013||Avisail Garcia||15-Day DL||Bruised right heel|
DETROIT (AP) -- Justin Verlander 's health is fine. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are swinging well.
Are the Detroit Tigers hitting their stride a little earlier this year?
Verlander pitched seven strong innings, and Cabrera and Fielder each hit a two-run homer Tuesday night to lead the Tigers to their fifth straight win, 6-1 over the Minnesota Twins .
Detroit is trying for its third straight AL Central title, but the Tigers had to rally last September to win the division. Now they're in first place and playing well. The Tigers are 15-10 at the end of April - compared to 11-11 at this time last season.
"The name of the game in baseball is to try to extend your winning streaks - when you're playing well - as long as you can, and shorten the losing streaks," Verlander said. "You're not going to be hot the whole year. You just need to try to do the fundamental things right and play the game of baseball and see what happens. Our talent is going to take over, and I feel like we're starting to show that now."
Verlander (3-2) allowed a run and five hits. He struck out eight and walked two.
Vance Worley (0-4) gave up six runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings. Worley was acquired by the Twins in an offseason trade with Philadelphia and started Minnesota's season opener, but the right-hander has a 7.22 ERA.
Cabrera opened the scoring with his fourth homer of the year, and Fielder's seventh was part of a three-run fifth. Alex Avila also went deep for Detroit.
Tigers pitchers struck out 10 - reaching that mark for the fifth straight game. That equals the longest streak by an American League team since at least 1921. The major league record since then is eight games by the Milwaukee Brewers last August, according to STATS.
"Since I've been here, our staff has always been a strikeout staff," said Avila, Detroit's catcher. "Being able to throw everything for strikes and being able to set up pitches is a big deal."
Cabrera's second opposite-field homer in three nights put Detroit ahead 2-0.
"Today was the best I've felt all season. I made good pitches. They just crushed them," Worley said. "I made the exact pitch that I wanted to Cabrera. I even went back and watched the video. That pitch is a popup, and he drove it out of the park the other way. There's nothing you can do about that."
Wilkin Ramirez hit an RBI double for Minnesota in the second, but Avila answered in the bottom half. He entered the game hitting .176, but sliced a drive over the fence in left-center to make it 3-1.
Worley appeared to be in decent shape until the fifth, when Torii Hunter hit an RBI groundout to make it 4-1. Fielder followed one out later with a line drive that cleared the wall in right in a hurry.
Verlander left his previous start against Kansas City after seven innings with a blister on his pitching thumb, but the injury wasn't expected to be too serious. He didn't seem bothered Tuesday, throwing 114 pitches.
"It bled a little bit, but it was just kind of superficial," Verlander said. "I was able to kind of manage it, which is why I came out of the game after seven last time."
Drew Smyly took over in the eighth and struck out one hitter. Al Alburquerque came on in the ninth but walked two, prompting manager Jim Leyland to bring in Joaquin Benoit for the final two outs in what was still a non-save situation. Benoit fanned pinch-hitter Ryan Doumit for the second out of the ninth and Detroit's 10th strikeout of the game.
NOTES: Minnesota star Joe Mauer snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a third-inning single. ... Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, a big Tigers fan, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He spent some time before the game commiserating with Hunter and Smyly, who are both from Arkansas. ... The Tigers try for a three-game sweep Wednesday. Detroit's Anibal Sanchez (3-1) takes the mound against Scott Diamond (1-2).