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Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins in Detroit, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is congratulated after his two-run home run by teammate Torii Hunter in front of Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer during the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Carlos Osorio • Associated Press ,

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Vance Worley walks back to the dugout after being pulled during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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If Verlander's beatable, Twins don't know it

  • Article by: Phil Miller
  • Star Tribune
  • April 30, 2013 - 10:54 PM

 

– Joe Mauer’s uncharacteristic streak of failure finally ended Tuesday night. Here’s guessing he would have gladly gone hitless for awhile longer if Justin Verlander’s streak could have ended instead.

But the Tigers’ ace righthander was as nasty as ever, allowing four singles and a double over seven innings to notch his third victory of the season — and his eighth in a row against the Twins. The final score at Comerica Park was 6-1, but the game felt predetermined from the moment the former Cy Young winner took the mound.

After all, the Tigers have beaten the Twins in each of Verlander’s past 10 starts against Minnesota, a streak that started in July 2010.

“I don’t know if he had his best stuff tonight, but being the pitcher he is, he made it work,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Verlander, who allowed one run over seven innings, striking out eight. “There were a couple of innings where we thought we might have a shot at him, but he made pitches when he had to.”

Not much Mauer could do by himself about that one, even as he finally snapped out of the longest funk of his career. The three-time batting champion laced a sharp single to right in the third inning, bringing to an end his weeklong streak of 21 consecutive at-bats without a hit.

Given his history and his personality, it was hard to view Mauer’s skid as anything more than a statistical anomaly, a more-or-less random stretch of ground balls at infielders and line drives missing the gaps. “I don’t know the exact number,” Mauer said before the game of his extended oh-fer, “but I know they’re not falling right now.”

Vance Worley has made six winless starts after one month as a Twin, and it’s 11 in a row without a victory if you count his last five starts with the Phillies. The righthander hasn’t left a game with a lead since Aug. 1, and his ERA as an American Leaguer now stands at 7.22 after he allowed six runs on 10 hits while recording only 14 outs Tuesday. Could have been worse, too — a seventh run charged to Worley was cut down at the plate, on Chris Parmelee’s nice throw and Mauer’s snap tag to prevent Victor Martinez from scoring.

Worley, now 0-4 as a Twin, wishes he knew what’s wrong. Because he feels like he’s throwing well enough to win.

“Today’s the best I’ve felt all year. The ball was doing what I want. They just came out swinging,” he said after failing to get through five innings for the second time this season. “Not much else I can do.”

That’s probably the case against a hitter such as Miguel Cabrera, who bent over and reached for a fastball a few inches outside the strike zone in the first inning, hit it off the end of the bat as his top hand came off the handle — and watched it carry two rows deep into the right-field stands, his fourth home run of the year.

“Absolutely not,” Worley said when asked if he thought the pitch was a potential home-run ball. “I tip my hat to him. They’re pitches that are supposed to be pop-ups and they put them out.”

Especially in the first inning. Tuesday’s loss marked the fifth time in Worley’s six starts that he has allowed runs in the first; his ERA is 18.00 in the frame.

“I don’t have an answer. We haven’t had him that long,” Gardenhire said of the phenomenon. “Right now, I know the reason is because he hasn’t commanded the game early. He makes bad pitches that end up in the seats.”



 

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