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P.J. Walters and Justin Verlander were almost neck and neck for most of the game until the bullpens turned it into an adventure in the 8th inning, but the Tigers had just enough to overcome Ryan Doumit's late grand slam in defeating the Twins.
As I said in the game thread earlier today, P.J. Walters v. Justin Verlander looked to be pretty one-sided. But, minus a hiccup in the 2nd inning, Walters actually made this a fairly solid pitcher's duel for 5 innings. That hiccup was first a leadoff home run by Prince Fielder, and then with Andy Dirks on first base with one out, Jhonny Peralta doubled to bring Dirks home, giving the Tigers an early 2-0 lead.
The score would remain there for most of the game, with Walters and Verlander trading zeroes. Verlander has had an ERA under 1 in his prior 3 starts, and he was definitely on again as he only allowed an unearned run through 7 innings with 8 strikeouts. Walters wasn't able to pitch as well or as long as Verlander, but he did survive 5 innings while keeping the game close enough for the Twins to take advantage.
However, the offense didn't awake until it was too late. After Brian Duensing relieved Walters with 1 2/3 perfect innings, Alex Burnett came on and finished off the 7th inning. But, Burnett got himself into trouble in the 8th by giving up a leadoff single to Austin Jackson and then walked Quintin Berry. This brought in Casey Fien from the bullpen, who normally has been lights-out but tonight was not a regular day for Fien. He had allowed only 1 home run through 33 1/3 IP in 2012, but he promptly served up a 3-run dinger to Miguel Cabrera, and then 2 batters later gave up a solo shot to Andy Dirks.
Verlander started the bottom of the 8th and watched as Denard Span reached base on a throwing error by Jhonny Peralta before being lifted for Joaquin Benoit. Benoit had a similar day as Burnett and Fien did for the Twins, as he walked Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau after a Ben Revere groundout to load the bases with 1 away. This brought up Ryan Doumit, who went opposite field in hitting his 18th home run of the year, a grand slam that bounced in and out of the flower bed in left field.
This forced Jim Leyland to call upon Mike Francesa favorite Al Alburquerque, who did allow runners to reach 1st and 3rd with two away, but he struck out Pedro Florimon with his nasty slider on the outside corner to end the threat. The Twins would get Span on base to start the 9th with a leadoff walk against closer Jose Valverde, but that was all they could do as Valverde retired Revere, Mauer, and Morneau in order to end the game.
P.J. Walters (5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K), Ryan Doumit (1 for 4, HR, 4 RBI), Trevor Plouffe (2 for 4, 2B), Brian Duensing (1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 K)
AL Batting Race
Miguel Cabrera (1 for 4): .327
Joe Mauer (0 for 3): .320