By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) _ Justin Verlander raised his left arm to
acknowledge a roaring, standing ovation.
It was his right arm, though, that gave the New York Yankees so
Verlander matched a career high with 14 strikeouts and got
home-run support from Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, leading
the Detroit Tigers over New York 7-2 Monday night.
“Felt pretty good,” Verlander said.
He looked good, too.
Verlander (12-7) threw 132 pitches, his most in a regular-season
game, to lift the Tigers to a fifth straight win.
Before this opener of a four-game series, manager Jim Leyland
said the Tigers needed a big effort from Verlander.
“Hopefully your ace is an ace,” Leyland said.
Verlander was, putting together one of his best performances of
the season. He started strong and didn’t let up.
The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award winner struck out former
teammate Curtis Granderson _ for the first of three times _ with an
85 mph breaking pitch to lead off the game and struck out the first
two Yankees in the second inning. Verlander also fanned Ichiro
Suzuki and Mark Teixeira three times each.
Verlander gave up two unearned runs after his fielding error
extended the fifth inning.
Leyland visited Verlander at the mound in the eighth after he
gave up a walk to Raul Ibanez, and left him in the game following a
brief chat about how he felt following Derek Jeter’s comebacker off
his left leg the previous inning.
Verlander said he told Leyland his left calf was OK.
“He said, `Then let’s get this last batter and we’ll see what
happens,”’ Verlander recalled Leyland saying.
With many of the 41,381 fans on their feet, Verlander responded
by striking out Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez and Suzuki to tie his
strikeout high set last year against Arizona.
“In the eighth inning, he still had a 100 mph fastball,”
Suzuki said through an interpreter. “The rest of his pitches are
Suzuki snapped his 12-game hitting streak with the Yankees. He
also struck out for the first time with his new team and finished
with three to match a career high.
Verlander hit low and outside corners with fastballs and buckled
knees with an assortment of breaking pitches that left the Yankees
standing and looking or swinging and missing.
“Did you see some of those pitches?” Detroit catcher Alex
Avila asked. “That last curveball, I don’t think anybody could’ve
hit it. I had enough trouble catching it.”
When New York did make contact for base hits, Verlander was at
“He shut us down,” Yankees star Derek Jeter said. “A lot of
time great pitchers get a little attitude when they have guys on
base and they bear down. He did that.”
After Verlander’s night was over _ one pitch shy of the
career-high 133 he threw in Game 5 of the AL championship series
last year against Texas _ closer Jose Valverde retired the side in
order in the ninth.
Detroit, which is chasing Chicago in the AL Central, has won 19
of its last 23 home games. The AL East-leading Yankees have lost 11
of 17 overall.
Ivan Nova (10-6) was roughed up for seven runs and 11 hits _
matching a career high _ in 5 1-3 innings. Nova is 1-4 over his
last eight starts since June 28.
“Every pitcher goes through it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi
said. “You’re going to go through struggles. For the most part,
the kid has been pretty good for us but right now, he’s struggling.
He’ll find his way out. Verlander, as good as he is, goes through
struggles. He’s not 20-0 this year.”
Nova said he still has confidence in his stuff.
“I’ve got to keep my head up and keep working,” he said.
“It’s just location. I left too many pitches over the plate.”
Cabrera sent a thigh-high pitch over the middle of the plate 454
feet, clearing the second row of shrubs in center field, for his
28th homer in the fourth inning. Fielder cleared the fences for the
19th time with a no-doubt shot to right in the second.
The Tigers broke it open with three runs in the fifth inning and
two more in the sixth to go ahead 7-2.
Verlander allowed the Yankees to score twice in the fifth when
Granderson hit a two-out grounder and the pitcher glanced down to
step on first base as Fielder made an accurate throw that hit his
glove. Jeter and Robinson Cano took advantage with RBI singles that
made it 2-all.
“I need to be able to make that play,” Verlander said.
He made up for that miscue _ easily.
NOTES: Verlander is the first Tigers pitcher since Jim Bunning
(June 10, 1958) to strike out 14 Yankees in a game. … The Yankees
have decided Triple-A LHP Manny Banuelos, out since May with a
bruised left elbow, won’t pitch again this season. … Verlander
had lost his last two starts, giving up nine runs over 12 innings.
… Nova has given up 11 hits twice this year to Detroit and three
times in his career. … Jeter had two hits, his 43rd multihit game
of the year after having more than one hit in 45 last year.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)