As one of the game's top pitchers, Justin Verlander can accept a little more scrutiny.
He welcomes it, in fact. So there was no grousing from the Detroit ace when he took some heat after three straight ragged starts.
Instead, Verlander went back to work, and on Monday he returned to form a bit, striking out 13 in seven innings to lead the Tigers to a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Detroit's Jhonny Peralta had four hits, and the Tigers held on for their sixth win in seven games.
''I expect the bar to be high,'' Verlander said. ''That's where I set it for myself.''
Verlander (6-4) hadn't pitched more than five innings in any of his previous three starts, struggling at times with his location. But he was sharp for the most part against Pittsburgh, allowing three runs and seven hits with two walks.
Joaquin Benoit allowed two runs - one earned - in the eighth. Jose Valverde finished for his sixth save in seven chances, striking out a swinging Andrew McCutchen with a runner...