From the get-go, Angels get to shaky Verlander

From the get-go, Angels get to shaky Verlander

From the get-go, Angels get to shaky Verlander
ANAHEIM -- It took the Angels until the eighth inning to get a hit off Justin Verlander the last time the righty faced off against them back in 2011.

On Saturday, all it took was three pitches when rookie Mike Trout took him deep for the first of four first-inning runs en route to a 6-1 Tigers defeat.

"It was a little bit of a letdown right in the first there with the four spot, but that is something we can't really let happen," manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't mean we didn't battle the rest of the way; we did. It took a little air out of our sail."

On both ends, it was a frustrating night for the Tigers, who managed only four hits and played half the game without slugger Miguel Cabrera, who was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes.

But while the offense didn't do much, the story of the night was another rocky start by Verlander.

In the righty's last four outings, he has now looked both dominant and vulnerable. Verlander coughed up eight runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings on Aug. 28 against the Royals and he gave up 10 hits and six runs Saturday. For what it's worth, he threw a two-run complete game on Aug. 23 vs. the Blue Jays and eight innings of one-run ball in his last outing against the rival White Sox.

"You're not going to go out there and be perfect every time," he said. "Those guys get paid a lot of money, too, to hit good pitches."

Prior to Saturday, Verlander had thrown 100 pitches in 80 straight starts dating back to 2010. However, that streak ended Saturday with him being lifted after a tough six innings and 97 pitches.

He'll get his next shot on the mound on Thursday in a marquee matchup against Chris Sale and the White Sox, who are now two games ahead of the Tigers in the division after winning earlier in the day.

"It's pretty simple, he just wasn't good tonight," Leyland said. "That happens. That is part of the equation."

Verlander couldn't help but agree.

"It wasn't pretty," he said with a laugh. "They got to me early. First batter of the game I made a mistake right down the middle to a guy who is having a fantastic year."

Following Trout's homer, Verlander surrendered three more runs thanks to a trio of doubles from Kendrys Morales, Howie Kendrick and Vernon Wells that followed a walk to Albert Pujols.

Verlander was tagged again for another run in the third when he gave up back-to-back doubles to Pujols and Morales.

The Tigers got on the board in the fourth when Austin Jackson, who reached on an error, scored on an Omar Infante base hit, which was his second of the game and 1,000th of his career. However, the Angels answered back with an RBI single by Pujols later in the inning that scored Trout, who walked with two outs.

As for what the Angels did to attack early, manager Mike Scioscia didn't have an exact answer.

"I don't know if there's a key," he said. "You're trying to get to him every inning. Whether he's trying to work his way into his game, as the game goes on, you see him working his way into his stuff and his velocity. He's one guy. If he gets it going and he starts to smell a win, he's very, very tough to beat. So, early runs against him are important."

While Verlander struggled for six innings, Angels lefty C.J. Wilson tossed 7 2/3 innings and gave up just four hits. The one run scored by the Tigers was unearned.

Fittingly enough, the game ended like it started with a deep ball about to leave the park for a solo homer. Only this time, it was Trout making a play with his glove instead of his bat when he stole a home run from Prince Fielder.

Trout wasn't the only one as Wells ran down a couple of tough balls in left and Torii Hunter threw out Infante in the first from right.

"Their outfield defense is probably the best in baseball," Verlander said. "It saves those guys a lot of runs and you saw it again tonight. A lot of balls that were in the gap and fall in against most teams were outs tonight in some big situations. That is part of their team and what they do."

Alex Angert is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.