Detroit (61-49) continued its slide Sunday with a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers have not lost six in a row since an eight-game skid from Sept. 16-23, 2005, en route to a 71-91 record.
That season, Verlander (11-4, 3.49 ERA) had a brief stint with Detroit, making his first two major league starts. Since then, he has been one of the most reliable pitchers for the Tigers, helping them to the 2006 World Series and totaling a team-high 28 victories.
The 24-year-old right-hander, though, is searching for his first win since July 15 in order to help the Tigers end their losing streak, which is part of a dismal 2-11 stretch that has dropped them out of first place in the AL Central, one-half game behind Cleveland.
Verlander is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA in three outings since his last victory. He will try to rebound after allowing four runs - three earned - and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 7-3 loss at Oakland on Tuesday.
“It was one of those nights where I didn’t have good control. I was in and out of trouble all night,” said Verlander, who is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two career starts against Tampa Bay. “Sometimes we’re like hitters and go through little streaks where everything isn’t quite right.”
The hitters have not had much success during the losing streak, batting .229 while being outscored 27-15.
“We’re just in a funk right now. You just have to play your way through it,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It really boils down to us not doing things to excite the fans. They’re bored right now and I don’t blame them.
“The manager’s responsible for the performance of the team, and right now I stink.”
Detroit was successful at the plate in its last series with Tampa Bay from May 28-30, hitting .348, but it wasted the effort by losing two of three contests.
The Devil Rays (42-68), who are 9-28 since June 24 and the holders of the worst record in the majors, are hoping to rebound from an 11-3 loss to Baltimore on Sunday that completed a 4-5 homestand.
They hope 24-year-old Jason Hammel (1-1, 5.40), one of their promising young starters, can shake off tightness in his right shoulder when he faces Detroit for the first time.
The right-hander’s last start on Wednesday was cut short after three innings due to the injury. He allowed two runs and three hits before exiting the 6-2 win over Toronto.
Hammel, who has been recalled from the minors twice this season, is 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in three starts since entering the rotation after making 10 relief appearances. He has only received four total runs of support in those starts.
All-Star left fielder Carl Crawford will try to continue his hot hitting after going 11-for-18 (.611) with two homers, five RBIs and two stolen bases over the last four games. Crawford hopes to reverse his career numbers at Comerica Park, where he has gone 8-for-39 (.205) with two RBIs and two stolen bases.
Tampa Bay has lost six straight road games and 17 of 19 away from home to fall to 16-35—the worst road mark in the majors.