By Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
DETROIT — Justin Verlander tried to look at the bright side before facing a team with a 10-game winning streak.
“You just go tell yourself they’re bound to lose one here sooner or later,” the Detroit Tigers ace said. “They’re not going to win them all, so maybe the odds are on our side.”
With three quick bursts of power, the Tigers shifted the odds very much in their favor.
Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez hit consecutive home runs in the first inning, and the Tigers halted the Texas Rangers’ streak with a 9-3 thumping on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
“It gets Justin three runs. Get him an early lead like that, allow him to settle in, which he did, that’s important against a team like that,” Avila said. “We just happened to take advantage of some of (A.J. Griffin’s) mistakes and get an early lead for Justin.
“Typically when he’s on the mound and if you’re able to get an early lead like that and give him some runs to play with, you’re going to see a good game from him.”
Avila reached base four times and came up a triple shy of a cycle while scoring twice and driving in three runs. Cabrera returned to the lineup after missing three games with a mild oblique strain.
Nicholas Castellanos supplied a three-run homer for the Tigers (21-20).
Verlander (4-3) collected the win, allowing three runs and four hits while striking out five in seven innings.
“The biggest thing when you get a big lead is to try not to let the momentum shift the other way,” Verlander said.
Nomar Mazara had a two-run double and Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homer for Texas (23-21).
The Rangers were stumbling along seven games below .500 before the streak.
“What it’s done for us, it’s rebuilt that confidence that these guys always had,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “It allowed them to get to the ballpark and work on the things they need to do and put them in a good place mentally to continue to grind through the season.”
Griffin (4-1) was pounded for nine runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.
“He just couldn’t seem to find that rhythm and make pitches,” Banister said. “This is a group of hitters that we know like to drive the ball through the gaps and the other way. There were some elevated pitches and they capitalized.”
Griffin struck out Ian Kinsler before the Tigers’ power display in the first inning. Avila yanked his fifth homer in the right-field stands to get it started and Cabrera and Martinez then drilled shots to the opposite field for their fifth and sixth homers, respectively.
The last time the Tigers hit three consecutive homers was June 1, 2013, against the Baltimore Orioles.
Castellanos’ three-run homer highlighted Detroit’s four-run third. Kinsler scored on Cabrera’s RBI groundout earlier in the inning before Castellanos’ blast to right center, which made it 7-0.
Mazara’s two-run double in the fourth put Texas on the board. Avila got those runs back in the bottom of the inning with a two-run double of his own for a 9-2 Tigers lead.
Kinsler exited after the fourth inning with left hamstring tightness.