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Updated: August 16th, 2011 8:59pm
Twins Daily: Verlander continues Cy Young push in win over Twins

Twins Daily: Verlander continues Cy Young push in win over Twins

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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The Minnesota Twins ran into the Justin Verlander buzz saw at Comerica Park on Tuesday night, falling 7-1 to the Detroit Tigers while the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young Award continued to bolster his resume.

The skinny

In reality, the Twins barely had a chance on Tuesday night with Verlander on the mound.

After throwing 29 pitches and allowing two baserunners in the first inning, Verlander locked it down the rest of the way, stifling the Twins for 7 2/3 innings, allowing only one earned run on seven hits and a walk while striking out eight.

The Tigers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on Nick Blackburn courtesy of a two-RBI single by Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the third inning, and they went on to score three more runs in the fifth off Blackburn and two more later off relievers Phil Dumatrait and Anthony Swarzak.

Blackburn left after just 4 2/3 innings, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits and two walks while striking out one.

Justin Morneau's RBI single in the eighth off Verlander provided the only offensive pulse for the Twins.

One night after blasting his 600th home run, Jim Thome did not start, but he struck out swinging as a pinch hitter to end the ballgame against Joaquin Benoit.

Turning point

Facing an opponent in Verlander who has allowed more than three runs in a start only three times all season, Blackburn was charged with a difficult assignment -- hold the Tigers to three runs or fewer.

Already trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Blackburn allowed a single to Austin Jackson to start the frame. Brennan Boesch reached on a fielder's choice, with Jackson forced out at second, and Blackburn walked Cabrera two batters later to put runners on first and second with two out.

Victor Martinez, Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta followed with a string of RBI singles, giving the Tigers a 5-0 advantage and bouncing Blackburn from the game.

Numbers game

10: The number of times Blackburn has allowed at least five earned runs in 25 starts this season.

121: Pitches for Verlander, who has thrown at least 100 pitches in 45 consecutive starts.

1: Home runs by Twins hitters not named Jim Thome over the past nine games.

2: Hits each for Joe Mauer (2-for-3, two singles and a walk) and Ben Revere (2-for-4, two singles) off Verlander.

2: Singles in five at-bats for Delmon Young in his second game with the Tigers.

Health report

• OF Michael Cuddyer (sore neck) missed his fourth consecutive game Tuesday with neck soreness, but he told MLB.com he hopes to return to the lineup on Wednesday.

• OF Denard Span missed his third straight game due to some lingering fuzziness, but manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters he could be back Wednesday as well.

• INF Matt Tolbert has a sprained wrist, per MLB.com, and is considered day-to-day.

On deck

Wednesday's matchup (6:05 p.m., 1500 ESPN) features the two starting pitchers with the worst strikeout rates in all of baseball -- right-hander Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.55) and right-hander Brad Penny (8-9, 4.99).

Pavano (3.87 K/9) pitched one of his best games of the season in his last outing against the Cleveland Indians, but the Twins ultimately lost due mostly to poor middle infield defense, causing the right-hander to take out his frustrations on a cooler in the dugout. Pavano has faced the Tigers only once this season, allowing five earned runs on nine hits in six innings at Target Field on July 21.

Penny (3.56 K/9) has been mostly terrible for the Tigers lately, allowing at least four earned runs in five of his last six starts, and the Twins have touched him up for nine earned runs in 13 innings (6.23 ERA).

Coming up

• Thursday: vs. Yankees, 7:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (8-11, 4.53) vs. LHP C.C. Sabathia (16-7, 2.93)
• Friday: vs. Yankees, 7:10 p.m. RHP Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91) vs. RHP Freddy Garcia (10-7, 3.16)
• Saturday: vs. Yankees, 6:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (8-9, 5.12) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (3-4, 6.55)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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