The Tigers had trouble hitting Carl Pavano on Friday, so the defending AL Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee takes the mound on Sunday, you would think more of the same. Especially with the theme of pitchers restoring their mojo vs. the Tigers.
Cliff Lee was good, but Justin Verlander was better. JV and his newfound strikeout swagger kept the Tigers in it as the offense threatened, but just couldn't cash in. Then the 7th inning came along and each pitcher decided the game for his team.
Justin Verlander started off near the 100 pitch mark, and a walk and a double to the first two batters had him in trouble. Jim Leyland called for the intentional walk of 6 hitter Davd Dellucci, as to say "7-8-9 hitters, get them out ace." Get them out he did. A shallow pop-up did it Kelly Shoppach, Matt Laporte learned what Major League curves look like as he watched one sail into Dane Sardinha's glove for a called 3rd strike, and a groundball from Luis Valbuena ended the threat.
Jim Leyland left his guy out there to get the win, it was up to the offense to deliver. Dane "The Hawaiian Hammer" Sardihna mashed one into the gap for a leadoff double. Curtis Granderson stung one down the line for a double of his own to give the Tigers the lead. Magglio added another insurance run to give the Tigers the 3-1 lead and turn the game over to the bullpen.
That bullpen was more than capable. Bobby Seay got the first two outs, and started to falter. Joel Zumaya came in and got the final out, with a little help from a leaping Adam Everett. Fernando Rodney had a perfect ninth inning to pick up the save and secure the win, and the series for the Tigers
So after a stutter step on Friday, the Tigers used late inning rallies (both lead by Curtis Granderson) to take two of three from the Indians. In come the Twins for another AL Central battle.
Tigers 3 Indians 1
W: Verlander (2-2)
L: Lee (1-4)
S: Rodney (6)
W - L
13 - 11