Thursday, April 7, 2011

Verlander, Avila impressive, as Tigers trounce O’s 7-3

Justin Verlander had never lost to the Baltimore Orioles in his career, and the Orioles were undefeated heading into Wednesday night’s game. Somebody’s streak was going to end. Especially with the O’s off to an impressive 4-0 start, and according to Elias Sports Bureau, they tied a MLB record with 4 consecutive wins to start a season, while not allowing more than 1 run in each game.

With the Tigers ace coming off a season debut in New York where he threw 114 pitches in just six innings of work, Verlander knew he had be more efficient with his pitches.

Mission accomplished. Verlander allowed just 4 hits in 8 IP, in the game where he threw 108 pitches and struck out 9 Orioles, to improve his career record against Baltimore to 6-0. Said Verlander after the game, "Definitely feel like I am throwing the ball better than I did at this point the last couple years."

Offensively for the Tigers Miguel Cabrera (3), Victor Martinez (2) and Alex Avila (1) all homered for Detroit, with, Avila and Martinez adding in a 2-base hit each, to pace the Tigers. Avila set a career high in the game as he drove in 5 runs, becoming the first Tiger catcher to drive in 5 runs in a game since Ivan Rodriguez did so against the Philadelphia Phillies back in 2007. Avila also came a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, for the first time in his career, as he added a single to go along with his double and home run in the game.

Manager Jim Leyland told Avila to “loosen up” prior to the game. Avila and Victor Martinez had been criticized for allowing an AL leading six Wild pitches behind the plate in the Tigers first 4 games. Leyland said after the game that he saw “tension” in his 24-year old catcher as he was working behind the plate in the teams first few games. Obviously Avila took the comment to heart and relaxed.

So, as some in the media are pressing the panic button on the Tigers 2011 season, (see here, here, and here), with Wednesday night’s victory the Tigers improve their record to 2-3 as they finish up their series at Camden Yards, on Thursday night, with Brad Penny, facing Chris Tillman, for the Orioles.

Brad Bergeson started Wednesday night’s game against the Tigers, in place of the scheduled starter, Jeremy Guthrie, who spend Monday and Tuesday in the hospital with a case of pneumonia. The Tigers win on Wednesday, prevented the 2011 Orioles from tying the team record 5-0 start to the season that was set by the 1970 Orioles ball club. The 1970 team won the World Series.

RHP Ryan Perry was placed on the 15-Day DL, and the Tigers recalled RHP Robbie Weinhardt from Toledo to take Perry’s place. Weinhardt saw action in 28 games with Detroit during the 2010 season.

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