Tigers look for sweep of Indians behind Verlander Sunday
Detroit beat Cleveland 5-4 Saturday night
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers managed to take the American League Central last season due largely to their domination of the Cleveland Indians. Although their record against the Indians won't show the same kind of mastery in 2014, the Tigers' recent ability to solve Cleveland may be the reason they win the division again as the clubs wrap up their season series Sunday in Detroit. The Tigers went 15-4 versus the Indians last year, allowing them to finish a game ahead of Cleveland in the Central.
The Indians seized seven of the first 11 meetings this season, but Detroit has responded with wins in six of their last seven encounters and used five of those victories in September to regain its lead in the division. The Tigers dealt a crushing blow to the Indians' playoff hopes with Saturday's 5-4 comeback win, getting a go-ahead two-run homer from Alex Avila to maintain their half-game advantage on Kansas City and push Cleveland 5½ games behind in the division. The Indians trail the Royals for the second wild card spot by five games with 15 to play.
TV: 1:08 p.m. ET, TBS, STO (Cleveland), FSN Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Trevor Bauer (5-8, 4.12 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (13-12, 4.82)
Bauer surrendered all four of his runs and hits in a four-batter stretch during the fourth inning in Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Minnesota. The 23-year-old, who struck out eight and matched a career high with his eight-inning effort, is 1-5 with a 5.20 ERA in 10 road turns and only has one win over his last 10 outings. Bauer escaped with a no-decision after allowing four runs over 5 2/3 innings Sept. 4 to the Tigers, but is 2-0 despite a 4.88 ERA in four all-time starts against them.
Failing to post a quality start for the fourth time in his last five outings, Verlander came away with a win for the third time in four trips to the mound following Monday's 9-5 victory over Kansas City. The 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner was reached for four runs – the fourth time in five turns he has allowed at least that many – on six hits in seven frames. Verlander's one loss over his last four outings came on the road versus the Indians on Sept. 3 when he gave up seven runs (six earned) over 6 2/3 innings.
1. Detroit DH Victor Martinez has clubbed seven of his career-high 31 homers against the team he spent his first 7½ major-league season with from 2002-2009.
2. Indians LF Michael Brantley, who is batting .400 with three home runs and 15 RBIs versus the Tigers this season, is 17-for-51 in his career against Verlander.
3. Avila has delivered three go-ahead homers in the eighth inning or after versus Cleveland since last August.
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