By Jason Beck and Ian Browne
MLB.com |@beckjason |
DETROIT -- The latest showdown between Justin Verlander and Chris Sale lived up to its billing. Nicholas Castellanos broke the pitching duel with a go-ahead single in the bottom of the eighth inning, sending the Tigers to a 2-1 win over the Red Sox on Monday afternoon to take three of four in the series at Comerica Park.
The fifth career meeting between the former American League Central foes looked much like their two matchups last year -- a low-scoring, back-and-forth battle decided late. Like the other four, it went in the Tigers' favor. While Verlander didn't have his best stuff, struggling with his fastball command early, he compensated with curveballs and changeups on the corners, holding Boston to a Mitch Moreland run scored from a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second inning that included a Castellanos fielding error.
"You have to limit runs any way you can," Verlander said. "You can't give up a crooked-number inning because then your guys are asked to battle back and score multiple runs against someone like Sale, who was on. That's pretty much sayonara."
Sale seemed poised to hold that until Ian Kinsler homered to tie it in the sixth. Andrew Romine's second double of the afternoon and a Kinsler walk extended the eighth inning for Castellanos. Justin Wilson earned the win with a scoreless eighth ahead of Francisco Rodriguez, who struck out Brock Holt with the tying run on base for his second save of the season.
"Yeah, anytime you face a lineup like this and a guy pitching like him, it's going to be tough," said Sale. "You know what you're getting in for so I just need to bear down a little bit better. I wasn't able to corral it at the end."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kinsler capitalizes on Sale: Sale had retired nine consecutive batters, five by strikeout, when Kinsler jumped the first pitch he saw with two outs in the sixth. The resulting drive deep to left registered at 410 feet, according to Statcast™. It was just the second hit allowed by Sale through six innings.
"You can't sit around and wait for him," Kinsler said. "He attacks, and he attacks really well. He's one of the best in the game at it, and we saw it today. I just got a good pitch that at-bat and was lucky enough to put a good swing on it. That's really it. When it comes down to a guy like that, a lot of it's luck."
Castellanos keeps it simple: Castellanos had centered balls all series but looked silly much of the day against Sale, who struck him out twice and induced a popout. With a two-out RBI chance in the eighth, Castellanos kept it simple but aggressive, swinging at a first-pitch 96-mph fastball and grounding it through the left side as Romine rounded third.
"He's intentionally walked a couple of times to get to me, and I've got him a couple of times in the past," Castellanos said. "Feels good to be able to do that."
"You know when you're facing a guy like that, you have limited opportunities to score, so you have to make sure you find a way to do that. And they just got one more than we did."
-- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, on the pitching duel
"I mean, I prefer to get 10 runs, but when you come out victorious it's a good feeling."
-- Verlander, on the duel
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Verlander's outing was his 20th consecutive start with three or fewer earned runs, tying him with teammate Daniel Norris for the longest active streak in the Majors.
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz will come off the disabled list to make his debut for Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. ET home game against the Orioles. Pomeranz was brought along slowly in Spring Training due to a left forearm injury that he pitched through last season. The Red Sox expect to get shortstop Xander Bogaerts back from the bereavement list and hope that DH Hanley Ramirez will return to the lineup as well, after missing the four games in Detroit with the flu.
Tigers: Detroit's seven-game homestand rolls along Tuesday, when the Twins come to town looking to continue their hot start. Matt Boyd starts the series opener at 1:05 p.m. ET opposite fellow lefty Hector Santiago.