Tigers Fall to Verlander and Astros 9-3, Lose Series Finale

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The Detroit Tigers couldn’t overcome a dominant performance by former ace Justin Verlander, falling 9-3 to the Houston Astros in the final game of their three-game series. Despite a solid start from Jack Flaherty, the Tigers’ bullpen faltered, and their offense was stifled until the ninth inning. The loss drops the Tigers to a 20-20 record, while the Astros improve to 15-25.

Early Pitching Duel

Jack Flaherty looked sharp from the start, striking out Astros’ right fielder Kyle Tucker with a nasty slider to open the game. After an infield single by Jeremy Pena, Flaherty retired Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman to finish the inning. Double plays would become a theme for Flaherty and the Tigers’ defense throughout the game.

On the other side, 41-year-old Justin Verlander, a former Tigers ace, reminded Detroit fans of his dominance. He retired Riley Greene, Mark Canha, and Matt Vierling in order to start the game, evoking memories of his many years as a Tiger.

Flaherty Keeps Astros in Check

Flaherty continued to impress in the second inning, giving up a single to Jon Singleton before inducing a double play off Yainer Diaz. He ended the inning with a strikeout of Joey Loperfido, bringing his total to 30 pitches, 19 of which were strikes.

Verlander maintained his form, retiring the Tigers in order again in the bottom of the second inning. The pitching duel continued through the third inning, with Flaherty getting out of a potential jam with a “strike ’em out, throw ’em out” double play to end the inning. Verlander, still flawless, had yet to give up a hit through three innings.

Verlander was in vintage form, cruising through the Tigers’ lineup with precise pitches and consistent velocity. Through four innings, he had thrown only 44 pitches, 32 for strikes, and had not allowed a hit. The Tigers finally managed a hit off Verlander in the fifth, a Colt Keith infield single, but could not capitalize as Keith was caught stealing second.

Astros Break Through in the Sixth

The fourth inning saw Flaherty continue his strong performance, thanks in part to a fantastic diving catch by shortstop Javier Baez. However, Yordan Alvarez hit a blistering single up the middle, but Flaherty induced another double play to escape the inning. Verlander remained perfect, setting down the Tigers in order again.

Flaherty had a quick fifth inning, retiring the Astros in order.

The Astros finally broke through in the sixth inning. The game was scoreless until the a slight Flaherty misstep with an 85 mph slider allowed Kyle Tucker to launch a two-run homer over the right-field fence, giving the Astros a 2-0 lead. Flaherty responded by retiring the next two batters, including a strikeout of Alvarez on a 97 mph fastball.

Verlander found himself in trouble in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with back-to-back walks and a hit-by-pitch. However, Matt Vierling lined out to left field, allowing Verlander to escape without giving up a run.

Astros Pull Away Late

Flaherty started the seventh inning but was replaced after giving up a single to Bregman and recording two outs. Reliever Joey Wentz struggled, allowing three consecutive singles and a walk, leading to two more runs and a 4-0 Astros lead. Alex Lange replaced Wentz and got Jeremy Pena to fly out, ending the inning.

The Astros extended their lead in the eighth. Alvarez doubled, and after a walk and a single, scored on a hit by Yainer Diaz. Loperfido’s double and Jake Meyers’ single added three more runs, pushing the lead to 8-0. Will Vest replaced Lange and finally ended the inning.

Verlander exited after seven dominant innings, giving up only two hits and striking out eight. Seth Martinez pitched a scoreless eighth, preserving the Astros’ lead.

Late Tigers Rally Falls Short

The Astros added another run in the ninth, making it 9-0.

Despite the daunting deficit, the Tigers attempted a late rally in the ninth inning.

The Tigers showed some life in the bottom of the ninth. Akil Baddoo, pinch-hitting, led off with a triple and scored on a balk. Kerry Carpenter singled, and Spencer Torkelson launched his first home run of the season, a 405-foot shot over the left-field fence. However, the rally ended there, and the Tigers fell 9-3.

Key Performances and Looking Ahead

Jack Flaherty pitched well but was let down by the bullpen, finishing with 6.2 innings, 2 runs, and 5 strikeouts. Verlander was vintage, shutting down the Tigers over seven innings. Baddoo’s triple and Torkelson’s late home run was a small bright spot in an otherwise tough game for Detroit.

The Tigers will look to rebound as they continue their homestand with a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. Detroit will look to get back on track, sitting at 20-20 after starting the season 18-13. Detroit needs to capitalize on the struggling Marlins, who are 10-31 and recently traded their best player, Luis Arraez. After Miami, the Tigers head to Arizona for a three-game series against the Diamondbacks.

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For more from our Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions beat writer, Matt Broder, check him out on Twitter here: @mattbro21

Contact: Broder@woodwardsports.com

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Original Photo Credit: © Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports