Inside Pitch: Verlander Cruises

Justin Verlander was expected to have some ups and downs as a 23-year old rookie. He has yet to show any of those expected struggles, as Verlander pitched his first career complete game shutout on

Detroit needs Dmitri Young, but its alternatives are not all that bad.

Young provides a needed left-handed bat in the Tigers' largely right-handed lineup. He plus fellow switch-hitter Carlos Guillen and Curtis Granderson are the only lefty swings Detroit can take.

But Young isn't hitting, so Manager Jim Leyland needs alternatives.

One is outfielder Marcus Thames, who has been productive in occasional starts. Thames started Monday night.

Another is to have catcher Ivan Rodriguez DH and put Vance Wilson behind the plate.

Wilson has made key plays offensively and defensively for Detroit in his second year as Rodriguez's backup.

REPLAY: Rookie right-hander Justin Verlander pitched his first career shutout Monday night and the Detroit Tigers registered their second straight shutout in an 8-0 victory over the sagging Kansas City Royals. Detroit has won 10 of its last 11, while Kansas City has lost 10 in a row.

Brandon Inge hit a two-run home run and Curtis Granderson added a three-run shot for the Tigers, who lead the majors with 17 road wins.

Magglio Ordonez had a two-run single in the fifth and Craig Monroe added an RBI single.

Verlander (6-3) pitched a five-hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk. He allowed only two baserunners until Doug Mientkiewicz singled with one out in the seventh.

--RHP Justin Verlander is pitching himself into the Rookie of the Year race.

Verlander won his sixth game of the season Monday night with his first shutout and first complete game of his career, an 8-0 victory at Kansas City.

Verlander had command of his fastball again and mixed in his changeup and knuckle curve, a pitch he hadn't been able to use much the past few games because of a blister on his knuckle.

He also showed another facet of his game with his second pickoff of a baserunner in two games.

--RF Magglio Ordonez is building on his success.

Ordonez had a two-run single and two other singles Monday night and now has 31 RBIs.

The right fielder is now well above .300 for the season and is showing the power bat Detroit is paying $15 million a year for.

--OF Marcus Thames is a possible beneficiary of DH Dmitri Young not being able to hit.

Thames served as Detroit's DH Monday night and had a double plus a single to raise his batting average to .306.

Thames has done better than expected in sparse playing time and although Detroit needs a left-handed bat, he might see extra DH time.

--DH Dmitri Young did not play Monday night as he continues to struggle at the plate. The switch-hitting Young hit just .169 through his first 59 at-bats and has not been getting around on fastballs.

"He's going to keep working at it, and hopefully get it turned around," Manager Jim Leyland said.

Young will keep taking batting practice to get himself back into shape.

--SS Carlos Guillen did not play Monday night to rest a stiff back.

"I'd like to have Guillen in there against (LHP Jeremy) Affeldt, but his back is a little sore," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Leyland said he had planned to rest Guillen once in the four-game series anyway.

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