The good news for the Minnesota Twins is that they won't see Justin Verlander again in this series.
Verlander (13-5, 2.24 ERA) dominated the Twins over eight innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out nine and leading the Tigers to a 6-2 victory over Minnesota. The loss for Minnesota dropped them six games behind the Tigers in the American League Central standings, while the Tigers pulled half a game ahead of the idle Cleveland Indians for the division lead.
The game was scoreless through the first three innings of play, but the Tigers drew first blood against Twins' starter Carl Pavano (6-7, 4.24 ERA) in the top of the fourth. Pavano started the inning by hitting Brandon Boesch with a pitch, and Boesch moved to second on a ground out by Magglio Ordonez. After a walk to Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez singled to right to load the bases, and Jhonny Peralta followed with another single to right to plate Boesch and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Things could have gotten worse, but Pavano stabbed a ground ball by Carlos Guillen and started a nice 1-6-3 double play to get out of trouble.
Things only got worse from there for Pavano, however. Newly acquired Wilson Betemit singled to left with one out in the top of the fifth, and after getting the second out via strikeout, Pavano served up a two-run homer to Boesch to make the score 3-0. The Tigers got two more in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by Peralta and a sacrifice fly by Guillen.
The Twins answered back in the bottom of the sixth, however. After two quick outs, Alexi Casilla and Joe Mauer put together consecutive singles to put runners on first and second, and Michael Cuddyer brought Casilla home with a single to cut the lead to 5-1. Chuck James came in to relieve Pavano and, after pitching a scoreless seventh inning, gave up a solo home run to Peralta to lead off the eighth, making the score 6-1.
Verlander was apparently bored at that point, so the Tigers brought Phil Coke in to pitch the ninth inning. The Twins managed to scratch out one run in the bottom of the ninth on an error by Betemit at third, but it wasn't nearly enough as Delmon Young grounded out to Coke to end the game.
Pavano's final line had him allowing five runs on nine hits in six innings of work while taking the loss, only his second defeat in his last nine starts.
The second game of the series will take place on Friday night at Target Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM Central time. The Tigers will send right-hander Max Scherzer (10-5, 4.53 ERA) to the hill, while the Twins will go with left-hander Brian Duensing (7-7, 4.14 ERA).