Justin Verlander wins 10th straight start, 22nd overall

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Despite giving up a pair of two-run homers to Shelley Duncan in his six innings of work, Justin Verlander improved to 22-5 by beating the Indians in Detroit’s 8-6 victory on Wednesday.

The win was Verlander’s 10th in 10 starts.  It’s the longest such streak with no losses or no decisions since Arizona’s Brandon Webb won 11 in a row from Sept. 22, 2007-May 15, 2008.

The longest streak since 2000 belongs to Johan Santana, who ran off 12 straight victories for the Twins from July 27-Sept. 24, 2004.

Verlander’s streak doesn’t quite measure up to Santana’s.  Today’s was the third outing in the stretch in which he gave up four runs.  He has a 2.75 ERA in his 10 wins (his ERA was actually lower back when he was 12-5).  Santana had a 1.28 ERA during his streak, and Webb was at 2.58 during his.

Of course, Santana was just flat-out awesome the second half of 2004.  Including his two starts against the Yankees in the postseason, he went 15-0 in a span of 18 starts and allowed just one run in each of the three no-decisions.

It’s clear now that Verlander is going to cruise to his first Cy Young Award, and he pretty obviously deserves it.  He’s overtaken Jered Weaver for the AL lead in ERA at 2.44, leaving him slightly ahead of Weaver and Josh Beckett at 2.49.  He already has the other two portions of the pitching triple crown pretty much locked up.  He has three more wins than CC Sabathia in second place, and with eight strikeouts today, he’s 21 ahead of Sabathia and Felix Hernandez (232-211).

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.