Justin Verlander pitched three-hit ball over eight scoreless innings Sunday as the Tigers topped the Orioles 4-0.
It was Verlander’s first start since he gave up five runs in an inning in losing Tuesday’s All-Star Game for the American League.
Verlander struck out eight and walked two. He’s second in the AL with 136 strikeouts, four behind Felix Hernandez. Jose Valverde pitched the final inning today with Verlander at 117 pitches after eight.
Verlander was just 5-4 after 13 outings this season, but now he’s now reeled off five wins in six starts — even though he hasn’t lowered his ERA much in the process — he should be right back among the Cy Young leaders in the AL.
With the win today, Verlander is 7-0 lifetime in 10 career starts against the Orioles.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.