Justin Verlander pitched much better. Phil Coke maybe pitched the best he has all season for the Tigers. Coke gave up one hit with three strikeouts in the 10th to earn his first save of the season in a 5-4 victory over the Indians on Saturday night. Coke struck out left-handed hitters Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis. After giving up a single to switcher hitter Carlos Santana, he got left-handed hitter Lonnie Chisenhall to swing and miss on a slider to end the game. “I feel like I’ve been throwing the ball a lot better, and it’s just a matter of fractions of an inch to whether you get the swing and a miss or a ground ball at somebody,” Coke said. “It’s just that fine line and fine tuning and trusting your stuff and attacking the zone. That’s really the difference. I felt like I’ve been doing that a lot more successfully in the recent past.” Verlander matched a season-high eight strikeouts and allowed four hits and one walk over seven innings of work. He allowed two runs, one earned. The two runs were the fewest he’s allowed since giving up two runs in a 2-1 loss to Minnesota on May 9. Verlander had allowed seven earned runs in each of his last two starts and at least five earned runs in six of his last seven starts. The eight strikeouts matched his previous high, which came in a 6-2 win over the Padres on April 12. “The one thing that really stood out to me was everything was moving towards home plate, as opposed to sometimes moving laterally,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of the mechanical adjustment Verlander has made. Ausmus said Verlander’s fastball had more jump. “He threw some really good sliders today as well,” Ausmus said. “He picked his spots with the curveball, through a couple get-me-over-for-called-strikes, a couple down in the zone or in the dirt.” Ausmus said he wanted Verlander to feel good about that start, which is why he opted to take him out after seven innings and 100 pitches. With Joba Chamberlain unavailable due to his recent workload and Ian Krol heading for the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder inflammation, Ausmus brought out Al Alburquerque to pitch the eighth inning with a 4-2 lead.
Detroit 5, Cleveland 4 (10 innings): Tigers rally in extras after Joe Nathan blows another save
Detroit Free Press | Jun 22