Justin Verlander fans 14 to defeat Yankees

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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.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.