CHICAGO (AP) — Even when a scuffling Justin Verlander is equipped with some of his best stuff of the season, as he was Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox, his struggles continue.
Despite routinely hitting 96 mph with his fastball, Verlander let costly walks put him in tough spots and the White Sox capitalized. Chicago scored seven runs in the sixth inning and beat the Detroit Tigers 8-2.
Verlander (6-6) gave up seven runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings, and his four walks tied a season high. It wasn’t the performance the Tigers needed from their ace as they have lost three consecutive games and eight of their last 10.
“It’s kind of everything that can go wrong is going wrong, not just for myself, but for this team. But we’ll battle through it,” Verlander said.
Jose Abreu hit an early homer off Verlander, then singled to start a seven-run burst in the sixth.
Abreu went 3 for 4 with a walk and scored twice. The Cuban rookie has 19 home runs and 50 RBIs this season.
This marked marked the 15th time in 280 career starts that Verlander has allowed seven or more runs. Of those 15 shaky outings, this was the time Verlander issued four walks.
“No, there’s nothing in particular that concerns me with Justin that I could tell you,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’ve got to find a way to fix him.”
Said Verlander: “I mean it is troublesome, yeah, but just need to continue to work on what I’ve been working on.”
“This is not easy for me to look back at, but at the same point, I can go back and say, ‘I got myself into that trouble.‘ And if I don’t walk those guys, it’s a completely different ballgame.”
The seven runs in an inning matched a season high for Chicago. The White Sox, who have won two straight against the AL Central-leading Tigers, also scored seven on May 9 against Arizona.
John Danks (5-5) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He has permitted just five runs in 29 1-3 innings over his past four starts.
“I felt like I got in a good rhythm at the start,” he said. “I was able to throw the ball over the plate and let these guys work behind me. I caught some breaks, guys were making plays behind me and tried to get these guys in the dugout and let these guys swing the bat.”
Abreu connected on Verlander’s first pitch of the second inning for a solo homer over the left-center field wall.
Detroit tied it in the fourth when Miguel Cabrera doubled and scored on a groundout by Torii Hunter.
Singles by Abreu, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth. Dayan Viciedo grounded into a double play and Abreu scored for a 2-1 lead.
It appeared as if Verlander might escape with just one run scoring, but Alejandro De Aza followed with a bloop single for a run, and Adrian Nieto and Adam Eaton drew walks to load the bases.
That brought up Gordon Beckham, and Ausmus kept Verlander in the game despite the right-hander had thrown 121 pitches to that point. The next pitch was a 96 mph fastball that Beckham lined for a two-run single.
Ausmus said Verlander is “our horse” and wanted him to face Eaton and Beckham, who Verlander has fared well against in the past.
“He’s a quality pitcher, one of the best in our league,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “I don’t care what the numbers are or the last couple of games. He’s a tough guy to beat.”
Reliever Ian Krol faced three batters and retired no one. He gave up a two-run double to Conor Gillaspie and — following an intentional walk to Abreu — an RBI single to Dunn.
NOTES: Cabrera (left hamstring) said he was feeling better, but Ausmus decided to keep the slugger at DH. “Give him another day,” Ausmus said. “We don’t want this lingering.” ... The Tigers decided to skip LHP Drew Smyly and keep the matchup between Max Scherzer (7-2) and Chris Sale (5-0) for the series finale Thursday. Smyly, originally scheduled to pitch Wednesday, will pitch Friday against Minnesota.