Win streak ends with thud

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 5, 2012 - 8:07 AM

Justin Verlander was in complete control, while the Twins saw Brian Duensing take a line drive off his ankle.

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Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, center, is congratulated by Delmon Young (21) after scoring with Ryan Raburn (25) on a double by Prince Fielder in the first inning Wednesday.

Photo: Duane Burleson, Associated Press

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DETROIT - Tigers ace Justin Verlander fired his fifth complete game of the year Wednesday night against the Twins, who reached the season's midpoint with one complete game on the ledger for the entire team.

Verlander threw a four-hitter and Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs as Detroit rolled to a 5-1 victory at Comerica Park.

After having their five-game losing streak end, the Twins were just glad starting pitcher Brian Duensing wasn't dealing with a more serious ankle injury.

The lefthander took a line drive from Detroit's Alex Avila off his left ankle in the fifth inning and crumpled to the ground in pain. But after limping off the field under his own power, Duensing had X-rays taken, and they showed no broken bones.

His next scheduled start isn't expected to come until July 15 because of the All-Star break, and he's hoping to be ready.

"Yeah, it's really good news," Duensing said. "I was a little nervous at first because of the way it felt initially, but I was able to walk off and go up the stairs on my own and stuff like that. The X-rays looked fine. It's just going to be sore and swollen for a few days."

That's a relief for the Twins, because Duensing's third start since leaving the bullpen was his most encouraging one yet. He held the Tigers to two runs on four hits over 4 1/3 innings.

"We were progressing to get him up to throwing 80 pitches tonight and then he gets drilled," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's typical for the way things have been going for our pitching staff. The good news is he was coming along nicely."

The Twins will need Duensing (1-5) -- and the rest of their patchwork starting staff -- to be better in the second half. This loss left them at 35-46, nine games out of first place in the American League Central.

That's exactly where they stood at last year's 81-game mark -- same record, same number of games back -- and they wound up finishing 63-99.

Verlander (9-5) sure makes it easier for the Tigers to be confident, even though at 40-42 they have been one of baseball's biggest disappointments. He is really in a league of his own, especially when it comes to durability. He has tossed six or more innings in 60 consecutive starts, dating to Aug. 22, 2010.

None of Detroit's other starting pitchers has a complete game this year. The Twins' only one of the season came from P.J. Walters on May 22 against the White Sox.

Verlander's only mistake this time came in the fifth inning, when he threw a first-pitch changeup that Chris Parmelee, getting a chance to play for Justin Morneau at first base, crushed for a 402-foot home run to right field. The Twins managed only two hits off Verlander the rest of the game.

"That's what you like in a No. 1, ace pitcher," Gardenhire said. "He doesn't get rattled, he gets mad. And when he gets mad, he throws the ball better and controls it better. He's the best pitcher in this league. He proved that last year."

Verlander won the American League MVP and Cy Young Award last year by going 24-5 with a 2.69 ERA. He led the league in strikeouts (250) and innings pitched (251 1/3), but he had a relatively modest four complete games.

He has already passed that mark now, but he might not finish his next start. That's because it will likely come Tuesday night in the All-Star Game.

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