Cleveland (27-33) at Detroit (24-35)

Light Rain Shower Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jun 6, 2008
  • TV: WKYC, FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A lack of offense has contributed to the Detroit Tigers’ continuing struggles, and starter Justin Verlander has felt the effects.

Verlander hopes a return home can help get the Tigers out of their slump at the plate as they open a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians on Friday.

Detroit (24-35) boasts several sluggers in its lineup, but was unable to muster much offense during its recently completed West Coast road swing. The team went 3-6 on that trip, batting .206 and getting shut out twice in a stretch that concluded with a three-game sweep at Oakland.

The Tigers fell a season-worst 11 games under .500 with Wednesday’s 10-2 loss to the Athletics. Once considered a top contender to win the AL Central, Detroit is in fourth place in the division - just 1 1/2 games ahead of last-place Kansas City.

“If this club was doing anywhere near what it’s supposed to be doing offensively, we’d be probably in third place for sure, and not very far out of first, in my opinion,” manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers’ official Web site.

The Tigers were held to four hits on Wednesday and scored fewer than three runs for the fifth time on the road trip.

“I am very disappointed in our offense,” Leyland said. “Our offense stunk, basically. I’m befuddled about it. I’ve said that all year.”

Verlander (2-8, 5.16 ERA) has felt the sting of his team’s hitting woes, as he has received just 3.12 runs of support in 12 starts this year. In only one of his eight losses have the Tigers managed to score at least two runs.

The right-hander didn’t receive any help on Saturday, when he gave up four runs and eight hits over seven innings in a 5-0 loss at Seattle.

Verlander should be happy he’ll be back home for his next two starts. The Tigers are opening a stretch of 10 straight games at Comerica Park on Friday, and they scored 54 runs in six games in their most recent homestand from May 20-25.

Detroit is hitting .291 at home this season to rank fifth in the majors, compared to .235 on the road—fourth-worst in baseball. The team has averaged 6.0 runs through 26 home games and 3.6 in 33 games on the road.

Verlander is 2-3 with a 4.68 ERA in seven starts at Comerica, but he’s lost his last three starts against the Indians (27-33) while posting an 11.66 ERA. He was tagged for five runs and seven hits in five innings of an 11-1 loss at Cleveland on April 17.

Like Verlander, Byrd (2-5, 4.66) has received little offensive support, getting just 2.54 runs per game through 11 starts.

The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his last three outings. He was reached for six runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-1 loss at Kansas City on Sunday.

Byrd has gone 0-5 with a 7.71 ERA in six road starts this season. However, he is 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA in eight career starts in Detroit, and is 8-2 with a 3.55 ERA in 17 overall appearances - 16 starts - versus the Tigers.

Cleveland has lost 14 of 19 and is just 2 1/2 games ahead of Detroit in the division.

The Indians are coming off a four-game split with Texas. They totaled 35 runs and 48 hits through the first three games, but were held to nine hits on Thursday and failed to score after the first inning in a 9-4 defeat.

“(Texas starter Kevin Millwood) made some adjustments after the first inning,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We weren’t able to generate anything after that.”

These teams split two games in mid-April in their only series this season.

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Starting Pitchers

P. Byrd Bos vs. J. Verlander Det
11-12 Record 11-17
4.60 ERA 4.84
82 K 163
34 BB 87
1.32 WHIP 1.40

Scoreboard

Friday, Jun 6