While the Detroit Tigers lost again on Tuesday night to the Pittsburgh Pirates in similar, mind numbing fashion, they still won the day overall with the good news regarding Justin Verlander's right arm.
After leaving Monday's game with shoulder tightness, an MRI showed no structural damage, meaning Verlander will once again avoid the disabled list. Throughout his ten year career, Verlander has never been shelved, and he certainly won't be now with Detroit in hot pursuit of the playoffs.
At most, Verlander will miss a few starts while the shoulder rests. It was a significant development for the Tigers, who need all hands on deck throughout the final months. What was thought to be a cakewalk to the playoffs has suddenly turned into a significant pennant fight thanks to another cold streak.
Mentally, the battered Tigers needed any bit of good news they could get, meaning the Verlander non-diagnosis could serve as a seasonal rallying point. Though they lost 4-2 Tuesday, they weren't blown out and the pitching was much better. The, offense, however, has miles to go. Thankfully from Detroit's perspective, the Kansas City Royals finally managed to lose a game, too.
After the loss, manager Brad Ausmus characterized Detroit's road trip—which finished an ugly 2-7 after everything under the sun happened—as "crappy." Things won't get any easier on the Tigers' brief home stand. They'll play two games with the Pirates before welcoming the Seattle Mariners, suddenly a fellow American League wild card combatant, in for the weekend.
At this point, the Tigers need to use Verlander's report as a form of positive jet fuel. The team can't feel good about their play, their place in the standings or anything else as of late, but they can take solace in knowing that as far as injuries go, they've run the gamut lately and are still standing.
Having a rested Verlander stick around, who had been pitching much better, will hopefully provide some type of lift. After all, he could have been shelved for the next month, or worse, for the rest of the year. Though he hasn't pitched as well, Verlander should be trusted more than a rookie like Buck Farmer.
Detroit needed a shred of good news anywhere they could get it, and Tuesday afternoon, they finally got some amidst their increasingly newsworthy tailspin. Now, the challenge will be putting it to proper use.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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