When it comes to coping and pitching with mounting physical decline, it would appear experience matters.
Now four games into his mystifying turnaround from the brink of utter useless, John Danks danced around hard contact with great economy (7 IP, 93 pitches), while Verlander, pounding his head against the wall with diminishing stuff that neither overwhelms nor tempts like it used, couldn't stopping digging his way to disaster in the sixth inning, allowing the Sox to rip open an easy 8-2 victory over the division-leading Tigers.
After barely escaping having walked and plunked his way into loaded bases in the third, Verlander's luck ran out after back-to-back singles from Jose Abreu and Adam Dunn. An Alexei Ramirez shot that Nick Castellanos couldn't handle loaded the bases with no outs, to where even a Dayan Viciedo double play grounder produced a run.
One out away from escaping with just a 2-1 deficit, Verlander's fastball on Alejandro De Aza's hands was rewarded with a dink RBI single to extend the inning. Causing his own problems again, Verlander found a way to walk Adrian Nieto twice in a game when he couldn't put a fastball over the plate against the young catcher, and loaded the bases anew with his fourth walk of the night to Adam Eaton.
Taking a page out of Robin's book then adding embellishment, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus left Verlander in, well over 115 pitches, only to have the first pitch he threw drilled back up the middle for the definitive 5-1 advantage. Verlander left after that, but the two runs that came home when Conor Gillaspie crushed a double off the wall against Ian Krol were still charged to Verlander, who gave up seven with four walks and nine hits over 5.2 innings.
Verlander can take solace that it could have been a lot worse. He got a crucial strikeout of Abreu to escape the third (the only time Abreu was retired), escaped damage from a one-out Adam Eaton triple on a solid throw home with a drawn-in infield, and was lucky enough that when Jose Abreu launched a massive home run to center in the second, he was leading off the inning.
Danks in the mean time, has long since stopped adding free baserunners to his normal struggle to pitch over his hittable mistakes.
Danks didn't have a 1-2-3 inning after the first, and issued both of his walks to shortstop Eugenio Velez for some reason, but held the Tigers to 0-8 with runners in scoring position on the night, including a run-saving leaping grab from De Aza that ended the fifth without incident.
They day was filled with statistical research showing just how not Verlander Justin Verlander is anymore, but the Sox cleaned up as Tigers' management continued to treat him like it.
Team Record: 33-33
Next Game: Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT vs. Detroit on CSN
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