Verlander Becomes Major's First 20 - Game Winner

August 27, 2011
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 27, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS, MIN-- Former ODU pitching standout Justin Verlander ('04) became the Major's first 20-game winner with a 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins. It was Verlander's eighth straight victory.

The win gave Verlander his first 20-win season of his career. He was 19-9 in 2009, 18-6 in 2007 and 18-9 last year.

"There's been times I've picked these guys up and there's been times when they've picked me up," Verlander said. "To get to 20 at this point in the season, obviously you can't do it alone. These guys have helped me along the way and today was a good example of that."

Making his 29th start this season, Verlander is the first pitcher to record 20 wins before the end of August since Curt Schilling did so in 2002 with the D-backs. The all-time strikeout king in ODU, CAA and Virginia Collegiate Div. 1 history with 427 strikeouts in 335.2 innings is the fifth pitcher to reach the 20-win mark in August over the past 20 years, joining Roger Clemens (1997), John Smoltz ('96) and Jack McDowell ('93).

Verlander got out of a jam in the first, stranding the bases loaded before cruising through the next three innings. He surrendered back-to-back homers to lead off the fifth and two more runs on a Luke Hughes double in the sixth, putting win No. 20 in jepardy.

Thanks to a pair of Tigers runs to break the tie in the seventh, though, Verlander got the win. He finished with four runs allowed on eight hits over six-plus innings, with three walks against six strikeouts. Three Tigers relievers, Daniel Schlereth,Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde tossed three innings of shutout ball and Valverde picked up his 39th save.

It was the fourth time this season Verlander allowed four runs or more, the first time since July 26 against the White Sox. Six innings also matched Verlander's shortest outing of the season.

The Tigers gave Verlander an early lead with a pair of solo home runs in the third by Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila, and it looked for a while to be all Verlander needed. Detroit added two runs in the fifth, but the four-run lead was gone two innings later.

Detroit scraped together three singles, a sacrifice bunt and a walk in the seventh to plate a pair and knock Twins starter Carl Pavano out of the game.

Verlander, the 2006 American League Rookie of the Year and four-time AL All-Star had his jersey retired at ODU last November. He also tossed a no-hitter earlier this year against Toronto, the second of his career.

Verlander threw his second career no-hitter in May and has taken two more into the eighth inning. He is 11-1 against division opponents and is the biggest reason the Tigers started the day with a 6½-game lead over Cleveland.