SEATTLE (AP) — Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander couldn’t settle things Wednesday night, so slugger Nelson Cruz decided the outcome with his bat.
Cruz hit his 28th homer in the eighth inning after Hernandez and Verlander dueled through the first seven, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Detroit Tigers 3-1 to complete a three-game sweep.
Cruz hit a 1-1 pitch from Justin Wilson (2-4) over the batter’s eye 421 feet away to help the Mariners get their season-high sixth straight victory.
“He’s always aggressive with the fastball,” Cruz said. “I looked for something I could hit.”
Hernandez and Verlander each pitched seven innings of one-run ball in a battle of former Cy Young Award winners. Hernandez struck out eight and allowed three hits and four walks, while Verlander allowed seven hits and two walks and struck out six.
“It was what it was billed to be,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Two very good pitchers going at it, Felix and (Verlander), and they both pitched outstanding. The difference was the eighth inning.”
Leonys Martin added an insurance run on an RBI single later in the eighth. That gave Nick Vincent more of a cushion to finish the game, and he got his second save filling in for closer Edwin Diaz, who needed to rest.
Hernandez was lifted after throwing a season-high 117 pitches, and Verlander also had a season high with 121. Both knew they had to work long into the game to protect their bullpens after a 15-inning contest on Tuesday.
Hernandez had trouble in his previous four starts with the first inning, allowing a combined nine runs. He retired the side 1-2-3 to begin Wednesday.
“About time,” Hernandez said. “I just tried to make better pitches in the first inning. Facing a great lineup, facing a great pitcher, your level, you have to raise it up. You just have to challenge them.”
Instead, Verlander flinched in the first, allowing Robinson Cano to tag him for his 25th homer on a 1-2 changeup.
“I knew, based on (Tuesday), my pitch count limit was probably a little higher than it normally would be,” Verlander said. “And that’s to be expected, that’s what I want, that’s what I needed tonight. Those guys battled. It was a combination of those guys battling and fouling off some tough pitches, and me not being as consistent as I would like early in the game.
“All of a sudden you look up and find yourself with 75 or so pitches after four, and that’s not very conducive of going deep in the game. I was happy to go out and get through seven innings and not have our bullpen come in too early, because they were pretty taxed last night.”
Arquimedes Caminero (1-0) pitched the eighth and earned the victory.
After Tuesday’s game in which 16 combined pitchers were used, both the Tigers and Mariners added to their bullpens. The Mariners promoted RHP Jarrett Grube from Triple-A Tacoma, and OF Guillermo Heredia was optioned out while SS Luis Sardinas was designated for assignment. The Tigers called up RHP Warwick Saupold from Triple-A Toledo, placing OF Cameron Maybin (left thumb sprain) on the 15-day disabled list.
CUPPING ‘DEFINITELY WORKS’
Tigers reliever Alex Wilson is amused by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and other athletes who have embraced cupping, a treatment that involves applying glass or plastic cups to the area of discomfort and either applying heat or suction to create a vacuum.
“It’s pretty common (in baseball),” Wilson said. “I’d say at least the last five, six years. It definitely works.”
He picked it up in Boston three years ago watching Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa do it.
“I think every swimmer and gymnast have cup marks on them now,” he said. “It’s kind of fun to watch.”
Tigers: The club placed OF Cameron Maybin on the DL (sprained left thumb) before the game, retroactive to Aug. 4. … RHP Bruce Rondon missed the series to be with his wife about to deliver a baby. He will join the team Friday in Texas. … RHP Shane Greene (oblique strain) should be ready to pitch again by Friday.
Mariners: LHP Charlie Furbush, on the DL all season, will have rotator cuff surgery Tuesday. His recovery time is 12 to 18 months. … LHP James Paxton, hit on the left elbow by a line drive Aug. 7, “is moving along at a good pace,” manager Scott Servais said. No determination has been made when he will start again. He needs to play catch and have a bullpen session to see how it holds up.
Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-11, 5.88) pitches in the opener of a series against Texas on Friday. He’ll face righty Yu Darvish (2-3, 2.78).
Mariners: LHP Ariel Miranda (1-0, 6.00) worked one inning — and was the winning pitcher — in Tuesday’s 15-inning victory. That shouldn’t prevent him from starting against the A’s on Friday. He has had three appearances since his acquisition from Baltimore July 31.
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