Verlander, Upton lead Tigers
By DAVE HOGG
DETROIT — Justin Verlander is probably still going to be a Detroit Tiger this evening.
The Comerica Park crowd gave him a farewell just in case.
In his last start before today’s trade deadline, Verlander (6-7) pitched six shutout innings in a 13-1 win over the Houston Astros. He gave up five singles and three walks while striking out six.
The subject of trade rumors since last winter, Verlander received a long standing ovation from the crowd of 31,970 when he walked off the mound after the sixth inning. He tipped his hat before entering the dugout.
“I didn’t tip my hat when the fans did that on Monday, and I felt bad about it, because you never know what is going to happen,” he said. “I wanted to get another chance to do it, just in case this is it. The fans here have always had my back and I wanted to show them I appreciated it.”
It wasn’t the last time the fans had a reason to cheer. The Tigers only led 3-0 when Verlander left, but scored 10 runs in the last three innings.
“It was great to see our bats come alive like that,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We needed that.”
Justin Upton matched a career best with six RBIs for the Tigers, who handed the Astros their first back-to-back losses since June 12-13.
“They might be the best team in the American League, but for the last two days, we were the best team on the field,” he said.
Upton had four hits, including a seventh-inning grand slam, and scored twice.
Lance McCullers Jr. (7-3), whose dad pitched for the Tigers in 1990, allowed five runs on eight hits in five-plus innings.
“I’m not where I need to be,” he said. “I’ve gone out there the last couple times and put the team in a bad hole.”
Houston first baseman Tyler White pitched the eighth, allowing a two-run homer to James McCann in his second career pitching performance.
“Our bullpen is not in a good spot right now,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’re beat up and we’re having to wear it a bit.”
Verlander stranded eight batters in the first four innings, but needed 90 pitches to do it. McCullers was almost as good, only allowing one of eight runners to score and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.
Verlander was perfect in the fifth and sixth innings, needing just 20 pitches.
“When he senses the moment, he can still dial up the velocity,” Hinch said. “He still competes as well as anyone in the league, and he won some big battles with our best hitters.”
Despite all the noise, Ausmus expects he’ll still have Verlander on his roster on Tuesday.
“It’s complex to make a trade with someone who has a no-trade clause, and we’re only 24 hours from the deadline at this point,” he said, adding: “Salary is always an issue.”
The Tigers broke through in the second on an RBI single by Jose Iglesias. Miguel Cabrera made it 2-0 with an RBI double in the fifth, and he later scored on McCann’s single.
Mikie Mahtook added an RBI double in the sixth, and Upton followed with a two-run double to put the Tigers up 6-0.
The Tigers added five runs off Tony Sipp in the seventh, including Upton’s sixth career grand slam.
Alex Bregman ended the shutout with a solo homer in the ninth. Houston’s streak of 60 games with a double came to an end.
Astros: Placed RHP Will Harris back on the disabled list with continued inflammation in his pitching shoulder. Harris was activated on Friday, but had soreness after playing catch, and when the pain didn’t go away on Saturday, the decision was made to put him back on the DL. LHP Reymin Guduan was recalled from Triple-A Fresno.
Tigers: 2B Ian Kinsler got a regularly scheduled day off Sunday. C James McCann caught the day game after a night game.
TIES TO COOPERSTOWN
Both teams were represented in Sunday’s Hall of Fame class. Jeff Bagwell played his entire 15-year career with Houston, finishing with 2.314 hits and 449 homers, while Ivan Rodriguez was a four-time All-Star in Detroit, helping the team win the 2006 American League pennant.
CABRERA CLIMBS THE LADDER
With his two hits, Cabrera moved from 81st on the career hits list into a tie for 79th. He now has 2,605, one more than Hall of Fame shortstop Rabbit Maranville and the same number as newly inducted Hall of Famer Tim Raines. Cabrera needs 39 more hits to catch 78th-place Lave Cross, a 19th-century third baseman.
Astros: Houston returns home for a four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Charlie Morton (8-4, 3.83) is scheduled to face Alex Cobb in Monday’s opener.
Tigers: Detroit leaves on a three-city, nine-game road trip that begins today at Yankee Stadium. Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35) will face New York’s Luis Severino.