Verlander makes headway with strong effort

Verlander makes headway with strong effort

BOSTON -- Though Friday night was low on positives for the Tigers, a sparkling outing by starter Justin Verlander cut into the gloom of a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Verlander gave up only one run on seven hits over a season-high eight innings, fanning three and walking none on 111 pitches. And while those numbers may look pedestrian in the greater context of the veteran's stellar career, his performance compared to his last start -- seven runs allowed over 3 2/3 innings -- was a promising sign, especially considering it was only his seventh start since returning from injury. Verlander is still stuck at 0-3, but his ERA fell from 6.62 to 5.57.

"[He] worked both sides of the plate, had really good command of his fastball today," catcher Alex Avila said. "Off of that, just able to mix in the slider and his curveball and his changeup both sides of the plate. Very good ballgame."

Verlander expressed cautious optimism afterwards.

"It definitely feels like it's getting there," Verlander said. "It's a funny game. Consistency being the main thing. You just got to get out there and be able to repeat.

"Like I've said, I feel like I'm kind of beating a dead horse here but I've got to get out there and get repetitions and pitch on five days and continue to go out there every five days. Hopefully just feed off this and continue to move forward."

Much of Verlander's most recent issues had to do with pitching from the stretch, but the right-hander appeared in complete control with men on base Friday. In fact, he kept himself in the game longer by generating a pair of pivotal inning-ending double plays -- one in the fourth and one in the sixth.

"Felt like I was executing better out of the stretch than I had been," he said. "I felt like I can get a little bit better still."

In contrast, Detroit's quiet bats left Verlander stuck with a no-decision, extending his winless stretch to a career-high seven starts. But while he is never satisfied after a loss, Verlander's personal rebound did take a little sting off the wound.

"Obviously, you wish for a better outcome," Verlander said. "But being able to go out there and go eight solid innings was good. After my last start, I felt similar to the start against Toronto where everything was pretty good. It was just a small adjustment out of the stretch that I had to make. Felt like I was able to do that tonight and make some quality pitches most of the night."

"That's probably one of the positives we can take out of this game, is that Justin threw the ball really well tonight," second baseman Ian Kinsler said.

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.