After struggling through a rough patch, Justin Verlander appears to have found his form with October fast approaching.
Verlander (13-11, 3.66 ERA) had gone 0-3 with a 4.17 ERA during a six-start stretch before bouncing back Friday against Kansas City. The 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner yielded three runs and struck out seven without a walk over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-3 victory.
"It seems like the whole year has been tinkering," he said. "I feel like I'm pretty doggone close. I think my stuff's been a lot better. Tonight I made a little bit of an adjustment with my grip on my curveball and that seemed to be working really well for me."
The Tigers (88-63) would like to see Verlander recapture his 2011 form and have him and Max Scherzer at the top of a very potent rotation for the postseason. They are six games ahead of second-place Cleveland in the division with 11 to go.
Having won six of seven by a combined 29-11 score, the Tigers stayed hot in Tuesday's 6-2 victory. Miguel Cabrera and Don Kelly both homered and Austin Jackson added two hits and two RBIs. Detroit was without closer Joaquin Benoit and reliever Drew Smyly , who were both given the night off.
"We need everybody here on our ballclub," said Cabrera, who leads the majors with 134 RBIs. "I think everybody here stepped up tonight and did their jobs. It's what we need to still win our games, what we need if we go to the playoffs."
Detroit has limited the Mariners (66-85) to nine runs in taking four of five in the season series. Seattle has also dropped eight of nine overall, including three in a row by a 22-6 margin.
While the Mariners are 2-8 on the road this month, scheduled starter Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.87) has strung together 17 consecutive scoreless innings away from home. The All-Star right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his last six outings in opposing stadiums.
Iwakuma threw seven innings of three-hit ball in Friday's 2-1, 10-inning loss at St. Louis.
"Iwakuma has been nasty all year," Cardinals' starter Adam Wainwright told MLB's official website. "He has good stuff, a very deceptive delivery and keeps guys off balance."
"I'm very happy about that because this is one of my goals, to stay healthy and stay in the rotation for a long time," he said through translator Antony Suzuki.
In his lone start versus Detroit, Iwakuma allowed three hits in six innings opposite Verlander but didn't factor in the decision of a 2-0 win April 18. Verlander surrendered both runs and struck out 12 in seven innings in that game, dropping to 3-6 with a 3.68 ERA in his last nine starts in the series.
Verlander, though, is 5-2 with a 2.23 ERA in seven career home outings versus Seattle.
|September 16, 2013||Felix Hernandez||Day-to-Day||Strained oblique|
|September 14, 2013||Brad Miller||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|September 05, 2013||Felix Hernandez||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|September 04, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Bilateral shin splints|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 31, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained lower abdomen|
DETROIT (AP) -- Hisashi Iwakuma kept Miguel Cabrera hitless and the Detroit Tigers scoreless, keeping up quite a streak.
Iwakuma extended his scoreless innings streak on the road to 25 and Justin Smoak homered off Justin Verlander to help Seattle Mariners beat Detroit 8-0 on Wednesday night.
Iwakuma (13-6) matched his career high going eight innings, giving up just four hits and one unintentional walk. He struck out six, including Cabrera twice.
"You don't see many pitchers have Miggy swinging like he was out there," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
Iwakuma's 25-inning scoreless streak on the road matches a franchise record. It trails only the 25 2-3 innings scoreless stretch Joe Kelly had on the road for St. Louis earlier this year, according to STATS LLC.
"I don't know what I might be doing to make it happen," the Japanese right-hander said through an interpreter. "I'm just trying to focus, pitch my game and stay with my plan."
Iwakuma, who became an All-Star this year in his second season, joined Randy Johnson (1994) and Brian Holman (1989) as Mariners who have thrown 25 straight scoreless innings on the road.
In the fourth inning, Iwakuma got out of a bases-loaded jam for the second time in the game at Detroit.
"We had a shot," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But that's what good pitchers do, they don't let you capitalize.
"That's why he's one of the best."
Verlander (13-12) allowed three runs, four hits, walked three and struck out six over seven innings.
"The stuff has been getting better almost every time out," Verlander said. "How I'm going to be in the postseason, we'll see. You never want to say anything clinched until it is."
The AL Central-leading Tigers had won three straight and six of seven to close in on their third straight title, but they have not eliminated the Cleveland Indians from contention in the division.
Seattle had lost eight of nine.
Verlander gave up walks to leadoff hitters in the first two innings, and the second time it led to him giving up two runs.
Smoak got a free pass in the second and scored on Michael Saunders ' double deep into the left-center gap. Nick Franklin followed with an RBI single to give Seattle a 2-0 lead.
"The walks hurt me," Verlander said. "It seemed like every inning, especially the first four, I was very erratic with the first batter of the inning."
Verlander seemed to finally find a groove in the fourth inning when he retired the side in order, but Smoak's solo shot - his 17th homer - gave Seattle a 3-0 lead in the sixth.
Verlander struck out two in the seventh, ending his 124-pitch outing.
The 2011 MVP and Cy Young Award winner earned a victory in his previous start, ending a six-game winless streak. He has won consecutive games only once - July 31 and Aug. 6 - since winning four straight starts in late May and early June.
Iwakuma, meanwhile, hadn't won any of his previous four starts despite a 2.10 ERA over that stretch.
He didn't need more run support against Detroit, but the Mariners provided it four runs in the eighth and another in the ninth on Gutierrez's homer.
Seattle's Danny Farquhar pitched the ninth and faced Alex Avila , a high school teammate in Florida, and struck him out to end the game.
NOTES: The Tigers gave OF Torii Hunter a scheduled day off and rested 2B Omar Infante . ... Tigers RHP Bruce Rondon , who hasn't pitched in a game since Sept. 2 because of an elbow injury, threw from 120 feet on Wednesday and the team hopes he can throw a bullpen session by the end of the week. ... Smoak has six homers over 11 games in Detroit. ... The Tigers announced Larry Parrish will be retained to manage the Triple-A Toledo next year. ... Detroit's Doug Fister (12-9) will start against Seattle's James Paxton (2-0) in the series finale Thursday, then the Tigers will open their home series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday night when Max Scherzer will make his fifth straight start seeking his 20th win.