Justin Verlander became the first pitcher since Boston’s Pedro Martinez in 1999 to strike out at least 14 Yankees in a 7-2 victory for the Tigers on Monday.
Verlander pitched eight innings and allowed both runs in easily outdueling Ivan Nova on the night. Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera homered off Nova, who ended up allowing all seven Tigers runs in 5 1/3 innings. He fell to 10-6 on the year.
Verlander is now 12-7, and he put himself in rare company in tonight’s 132-pitch outing. Just 11 pitchers since 1918 (and probably ever) had struck out at least 14 Yankees.
Urban Shocker – 1920 Browns – 14
Hal Newhouser – 1943 Tigers – 14
Connie Johnson – 1957 Orioles – 14
Jim Bunning – 1958 Tigers – 14
Sam McDowell – 1968 Indians – 14
Moose Haas – 1978 Brewers – 14
Mark Langston – 1986 Mariners – 14
Mike Moore – 1988 Mariners – 16
Chuck Finley – 1995 Angels – 15
Curt Schilling – 1997 Phillies – 16
Pedro Martinez – 1999 Red Sox – 17
With the win, Verlander is now 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 13 lifetime starts versus the Bombers.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.