Justin Verlander is sick. I've said it before, and I won't be the last person to say it. His ability to combine location with selection, intelligence, ability to change speeds and straight up power make him one of the most dangerous pitchers in baseball. If I'm drafting a fantasy team, Verlander might be the first pitcher I take.
But he wasn't perfect today. He wiggled out of a first inning jam with the bases loaded and two away, inducing French Resistance Fighter Rene Tosoni to pop out weakly to third. He struggled with control at times, although it only culminated in two walks. The Twins would actually manage more than one run today, for the first time in almost a week, against one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Carl Pavano allowed solo homers to Miguel Cabrera and Alex Aviles in the second, and the Tigers would plate two more in the fifth to push their lead to 4-0. But today the Twins showed a bit of fight. Luke Hughes sat on a Verlander fastball leading off the bottom of the fifth and got ahold of one, bouncing it off the foul pole in left for his fourth homer of the year. Jason Repko, not to be outdone, took a Verlander slider and gave it an uppercut swing. On most occasions he doesn't connect, but on the third pitch of the inning he gave the Twins back-to-back homers. Even more impressive than Hughes' homer, Repko's finally came down in the second deck.
Hughes came up big again the very next inning. With two away Danny Valencia singled and Rene Tosoni walked to put runners on first and second. Verlander, remembering what Hughes did the last time he stepped into the box, showed him some respect and upped the velocity on the fastball, dealing at 99 mph. Hughes swung and missed. Verlander reared back and fired another 99 mph bullet, but this time Hughes connected. This one split center and right field at the fence, scoring two to tie the game and leaving Hughes standing on second base.
Repko would sting a ball down the third base line, but Wilson Betemit made a nice play to end the inning. That play alone may have swung the game, as Hughes would have scored easily on what would have been a Repko double down the line.
Sadly, Pavano just couldn't get that third out in the top of the sixth. And Matt Capps couldn't keep the deficit at one.
The defense certainly didn't let Pavano down today, either. Valencia had a couple of nice plays, including a diving stop towards the line in the first that got Delmon Young and a nice play a couple of innings later that saw him range to his left. Hughes made a diving play, as did Tosoni, and Ben Revere topped them all with a diving catch in the top of the ninth.
Minnesota gets one last chance to beat Detroit in Target Field tomorrow afternoon. See you there!
Luke Hughes...that's it
Almost everyone else