Verlander credits Chacin after duel unravels

Starters retire first 27 batters in opening loss to Angels

Verlander credits Chacin after duel unravels

ANAHEIM -- The last time Justin Verlander won a game at Angel Stadium, he was still a mercurial young pitcher. It was 2010, the year before he won the American League Cy Young and MVP awards, and he threw 125 pitches over five innings of four-run ball, most of them with runners on base.

"I really don't feel like I deserve this win," Verlander said at the time.

He has had a few starts here since then where he deserved a win. On Monday, he found himself on the short end of a pitching duel with Jhoulys Chacin, and the wrong end against the bottom of the Angels lineup in a 5-1 loss.

As Verlander headed down the clubhouse steps, his straight-ahead glare seemingly said it all.

"Tough for everybody here," Verlander said afterwards. "But give credit where credit's due, that guy pitched his butt off and had us in check the whole game. Had a couple opportunities, just didn't cash in, and those guys were able to cash in when they had theirs."

Verlander has had matchups like this before. Last July, he and Chris Archer took perfect bids into the fifth inning before Asdrubal Cabrera got him for a home run, but two Tigers runs off Archer in the seventh allowed Verlander to earn a win for eight innings of one-run ball.

On Monday, Verlander retired the first 12 Angels batters he faced, including the top of the order on 15 fastballs in the first inning. He retired the next nine following C.J. Cron's leadoff single in the fifth.

He had faced one batter over the minimum over seven innings along with seven strikeouts, but had a scoreless game to show for it. Even for somebody who has insisted his entire career he doesn't pitch against the opposing pitcher, he knew what he was up against.

"Like I've always said, I'm not worried about what the other guy's doing, but I know I'm back out there pretty quickly," Verlander said.

With the back half of the Angels order due up in the eighth, Verlander had every reason to expect to keep rolling. No sooner had the Angels' Rally Monkey video stopped playing on the giant scoreboard than the Angels had runners at the corners with nobody out.

Nearly all the damage came off the fastball that Verlander dared them to hit in the opening inning. Johnny Giavotella poked a leadoff single into right field, Rafael Ortega's ensuing single, however, caught Verlander off guard. He saw Ortega show bunt and expected him to put one down, and pitched him accordingly.

"Sosh called the bunt and then he gave him the [sign to] swing away," Verlander said. "I had a feeling that he was, just didn't throw the pitch that I wanted. I'm kind of kicking myself in the butt a little bit, because I had a feeling that they might be doing that. But still didn't quite execute the fastball either way."

Cliff Pennington, with runners at the corners, tried to get the bunt down twice and fouled off both. With an 0-2 count, Verlander went to a 95 mph fastball, but got it in a spot where Pennington could line it into left for an RBI.

"Anybody 0-2, you like your chances," Verlander said, "but I needed to execute a little bit better on that specific occasion."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.