Friday night at Petco Park, the Padres beat the Tigers behind their ace and six runs. Saturday night, it was Detroit's turn to use that approach.
A night after being shut out by Andrew Cashner, the Motor City Kitties rode Justin Verlander to a 6-2 win over the Padres in front of a sellout crowd in the East Village. Verlander punched out eight and gave up just two runs.
Padres starter Ian Kennedy was not bad himself, striking out seven in six innings of work. Kennedy got hurt by a couple of pitches in not quite the right places.
In the 4th inning, with the Tigers leading 2-1, Ian allowed a single to Verlander (who got the first two hits of his Major League career on Saturday) then another single to Ian Kinsler. With two outs, Kennedy threw a first-pitch fastball to Torii Hunter, who slapped it right back up the middle for a 2-run single.
"I tried to go low, down and away, and it just ran back over (the plate)," said Kennedy. "When you have a close ballgame like this one of us is going to have that one pitch you're going to think about. That was the situation where you need to make that little bit better pitch."
Verlander made just enough pitches to get the win, but the Padres did not make it easy on him. After stressing the Tigers star in a 30-pitch first inning that produced one run (on a Jedd Gyorko sacrifice fly to score Chris Denorfia), the Padres got the tying run to the plate in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings.
Each time Verlander was able to pitch his way out of trouble. His crowning achievement may have been in that 6th inning. Catcher Yasmani Grandal singled with one out, then Verlander struck out Will Venable with three straight mid-90's fastballs up in the strike zone.
Padres manager Bud Black sent in Nick Hundley to pinch-hit for Kennedy and Verlander took everyone by surprise, flipping up a slider and three straight curve balls, the last one Hundley looked at for a called strike three.
"That combination is lethal, the high fastball and the good curve," said Black. "He's battle-tested, for sure, and he beat us."
If there's a silver lining, it's that Verlander gave up 8 hits and needed every weapon in his expansive arsenal to beat the Padres. The Friars can still win the series on Sunday when they throw Tyson Ross against Max Scherzer, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.