DETROIT — Justin Verlander’s stroll from the visiting dugout to the mound brought the rare combination of Mets and Tigers fans to their feet — one side welcoming his Mets debut, the other side remembering his greatness on this same mound for years as a Tiger.
As Eduardo Rodriguez walked off the mound and back to the Detroit dugout eight brilliant innings later, a handful of Mets fans joined Tigers fans in an ovation. The second billing in Thursday afternoon’s pitching duel at Comerica Park was that good. He has been for nearly a month.
With eight scoreless frames, nine strikeouts, two hits and one walk, Rodriguez pitched the Tigers to a three-game series sweep of the Mets, riding back-to-back first-inning homers from Riley Greene and Javier Báez for a 2-0 win. In the process, Rodriguez continued the most dominant run by a Tigers starter since Verlander’s glory days in Detroit.
Rodriguez, who took a perfect-game bid into the seventh inning two starts ago in Baltimore, has allowed two runs over his last five starts. In that span, the lefty has held opposing batters to 18 hits over 34 2/3 innings, with four walks and 33 strikeouts.