PHOENIX (AP) — A last-minute change in his arm action had Justin Verlander feeling like old times.
All because of some pictures of himself that he looked at “literally 10 minutes” before he warmed up.
Verlander pitched into the seventh inning, Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson homered and the Detroit Tigers
opened their interleague series in Arizona by beating the Diamondbacks 4-3 on Monday night.
Verlander said he “came across a couple of pictures,” one from earlier in his career and one from this
season. He was looking to see if he had changed his grip at all. Instead, he noticed a difference in his
arm action and made an immediate adjustment when he warmed up in the bullpen.
“I went out and tried to throw the way that I used to throw,” he said.
The results, Verlander said, were immediate and carried over into the game, when he held Arizona hitless
through the first three innings. The right-hander improved to 24-2 in interleague games by winning his
13th consecutive decision against National League teams.
“It felt like I was able to throw the way I want,” he said. “Really, the first time all year that I’ve
been able to locate my fastball as well as I would like to.”
Miguel Cabrera drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning with a booming single just below the home
run line on the Chase Field porch in left-center.
Hunter had a two-run homer in the second, his fifth in the last 15 games. Jackson added a solo shot. Both
were off starter Vidal Nuno (0-2).
“That is a tough lineup there,” Nuno said. “If you leave balls up they can do some damage.”
Verlander (9-8) allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings to win for the third time in his last
four starts. He struck out five to pass Hal Newhouser into third place on the Tigers’ all-time list
Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 25 opportunities.
There seemed to be as many Tigers fans as there were for the Diamondbacks.
“It felt like I was pitching in Detroit,” Nathan joked, “except there weren’t as many boos.”
Gerardo Parra homered for Arizona.
Nuno, in his third start since coming to Arizona in the trade that sent Brandon McCarthy to the New York
Yankees, went 4 2-3 innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.
After Parra’s solo homer tied it in the sixth, the Tigers bounced back in the seventh.
Jackson led off with a double. With one out, Cabrera lofted one to deep left center, off the fence on the
overhang. Jackson scored but Cabrera was out on a close play trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth called for a video review of Cabrera’s hit to make sure it wasn’t a home run.
The two homers put Detroit up 3-0.
Arizona, coming off a three-game home sweep of the Chicago Cubs, scored two runs in the fourth.
The Diamondbacks blew a chance to tie it in the seventh. Ender Inciarte singled with one out and was
picked off by catcher Bryan Holaday. The next two batters reached on a walk and a single.
“I messed up,” Inciarte said. “I thought it was a 3-2 count. I was going to go and when I came back I
thought I had a chance to get back to the bag but my foot got stuck in the ground. Either way I messed
up. I should be aware of the situation.”
Holaday said he had noticed that Inciarte was “pretty far off” first.
“He’s a pretty fast guy,” Holaday said, “but I noticed he didn’t get back immediately. I made the throw
after I saw that.”
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson challenged the pickoff call on Inciarte but lost.
NOTES: The Tigers’ career strikeout leaders are Mickey Lolich (2,679) and Jack Morris (1,980). … In
Tuesday night’s second game of the series, the Tigers will send Rick Porcello (12-5, 3.39 ERA) to the
mound against Arizona’s Chase Anderson (6-4, 4.64). … Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt doubled to boost his
major league-leading total to 38. Cabrera leads the AL with 36. … Arizona had won a season-high four
consecutive home games.