Justin Verlander hasn't lost to the Twins in his last 13 starts, and there wasn't much of a chance he was going to do so on Monday.
"Just filthy. He was unbelievable," manager Ron Gardenhire said of the Tigers' righthander, who is 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his six career starts at Target Field. "I thought there were going to be records set as the game started out. Eight strikeouts in three innings, and I'm going, 'Oh, Chrysler.' "
Actually, Verlander did set a record. His 12 whiffs were the most ever in Target Field history by a visitor, and the 46 he's recorded during his six career starts here are the most all-time by an opponent, too. He might not hold that one long, though; while Jake Peavy held the record with 42 whiffs, Max Scherzer (33) and Justin Masterson (35) are within striking distance, and both will face the Twins this week.
But Gardenhire had a point: Verlander actually struck out 10 batters among his first 11 outs, so finishing with just 12 in six innings wasn't a bad job by the Twins.
And once he was out of the game, having racked up 107 pitches, the Twins' chances improved considerably. They put together a walk and back-to-back doubles in the eighth innings -- yes, one of those elusive hits with runners in scoring position -- to close the gap to 3-2, and set up Dozier's game-tying homer in the ninth.
Lost in the late-inning heroics was the job done by Mike Pelfrey, who came down with the flu before the game but insisted on pitching anyway. He gave the Twins six good innings; only once did he retire the side in order, but he gave up just one run, and pitched out of a huge jam in the fifth inning. After giving up two singles and Torii Hunter's RBI ground-rule double, Pelfrey faced Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with the game at stake. He struck out the Triple Crown winner, and got Fielder to tap back to the mound, holding Detroit to just one run.
With the six-inning stint, Pelfrey surpassed 150 innings on the season, triggering a $100,000 incentive clause in his contract. And at 152 2/3 innings on the season, Pelfrey needs 7 1/3 innings in his final start -- assuming he gets one; Gardenhire said that decision was up in the air, though general manager Terry Ryan said Pelfrey would likely start again -- to reach 160 innings and a $150,000 bonus. Of course, Pelfrey hasn't gone 7 1/3 innings yet this season, so that money might be out of reach.