Justin Verlander found his groove on the mound, and the Detroit Tigers rediscovered their stroke at the plate. Verlander shut down the New...
DETROIT — Justin Verlander found his groove on the mound, and the Detroit Tigers rediscovered their stroke at the plate.
Verlander shut down the New York Yankees with his best stuff since throwing a no-hitter while Detroit roughed up Mike Mussina and a couple of relievers in its highest-scoring game this season.
The All-Star pitcher and reigning AL Rookie of the Year gave up just three hits and Placido Polanco was one of three Tigers with at least three hits to lead Detroit to a 16-0 win over New York on Monday night.
It was the most one-sided road shutout loss in the Yankees’ history, topping a 15-0 defeat at the Chicago White Sox on July 15, 1907, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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“We’re playing with a sense of urgency right now because our fate is in our own hands,” Verlander said. “We need to just go out and have fun and play like we did for most of the first half of the season.”
The Tigers took three of the four games and won a series for the first time since sweeping Minnesota from July 17-19. They won back-to-back games for just the third time since having baseball’s best record on July 21.
“If you don’t get any confidence from taking three out of four against the Yankees, you probably don’t have a pulse,” said Brandon Inge, who had four RBI on three hits.
Detroit didn’t make up any ground in the AL Central, though, because the Cleveland Indians won their third straight game to maintain a 2 ½-game lead.
“Everything is so tight that whoever gets hot right now is going to win this thing,” Casey said.
The Tigers scored their most runs since beating Baltimore 17-2 last Sept. 15. It was their highest-scoring shutout victory since a 17-0 win at Kansas City on July 19, 1991, according to Elias.
Detroit turned a rout into a laugher with a six-run seventh and finished with 20 hits.
“Everybody is going to talk about the offense, but I really liked the look in Verlander’s eye,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He really went at a real good hitting team.
“To me, that was the bright spot of the evening.”
New York has lost five of seven games and fallen eight games behind AL East-leading Boston.
Verlander (14-5) struck out six and walked two over seven innings.
Mussina (8-10) could be out of the rotation, lasting just three innings and giving up six runs, nine hits and a walk.
“I can’t believe in three starts that I forgot how to pitch after 17 years,” Mussina said. “So I just hope he has confidence enough in me to keep sending me out there and let me figure this out.
“But at the same time, we’ve got to win ballgames and I’ll understand if he thinks that we need to do something else.”