Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera hit two homers off Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma, and Justin Verlander made just one mistake on the mound in 7 2-3 strong innings, as the Tigers beat the Mariners 6-3 on Friday night.
Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the third off Iwakuma (3-2) to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Martinez followed two innings later with a three-run shot on the 10th pitch of the at-bat and after Seattle intentionally walked Cabrera. It was the 13th homer of the season for Martinez, who had two hits to raise his AL-leading average to .347.
Martinez said he’s gone from being angry when teams walk players in front of him to understanding why.
“Hey, if I’m a manager, I’d do the same thing. It is what it is, (Cabrera’s) the best hitter in the game, and you can’t let the best hitter in the game beat you. I understand it.”
Iwakuma (3-2) lasted six innings in his shortest start of the season. He gave up nine hits and four runs in his last outing against Houston in picking up his first loss. His problem against the Tigers was being unable to finish off an inning. The homers by Cabrera and Martinez both came with two outs.
Verlander (6-4) had lost three of his previous four starts and gave up 11 hits in each of his last two outings. He allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked one. He was on the cusp of getting through the eighth for just the second time this season, but James Jones‘ two-out single forced a change. He threw a season-high 120 pitches.
“I think my rhythm was much better, my consistency was much better and my stuff was a lot better,” Verlander said. “That’s a good sign in and of itself.”
Joba Chamberlain pitched the ninth for his second save.
Mariners manager, Lloyd McClendon was on Jim Leyland’s coaching staff in Detroit from 2006-13 before getting the Seattle job. Its was his first time facing the Tigers and he knew he was picking his poison when walking Cabrera.
“I’ve seen Victor do that from time to time over the last several years, I know what he is capable of doing. It was a calculated risk that didn’t work out.”
The Tigers and the Mariners return to the field Saturday night in Seattle.