With Verlander coming off his best start of the season, the Tigers look to stretch their longest win streak of the season to seven games when they face Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants on Monday night in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
Verlander (3-9, 4.65 ERA) went 1-6 with a 6.43 ERA in his first eight outings, a surprising start for the only pitcher in baseball history to throw a no-hitter, start a World Series game, be a Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in his first two full seasons. The 25-year-old right-hander has given way this season to more successful young pitchers such as Lincecum (8-1, 1.99), who hasn’t lost since April 29 for the Giants (30-40).
Verlander, though, has pitched well in recent weeks to help the Tigers (32-37) bounce back from their own terrible start. He is 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA and a .211 opponents batting average in his last six starts.
Verlander’s last outing was his best of the season as he pitched a four-hitter in Detroit’s 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Making his first appearance against San Francisco, Verlander has posted a 1.99 ERA en route to winning all seven of his starts against NL teams in the regular season.
Verlander will be trying to help continue the momentum for a Detroit team that has pulled within six games of the first-place White Sox in the AL Central, but the Tigers will have to find a way to solve Lincecum.
The 24-year-old right-hander has allowed one run or none in each of his last three outings. In his last start, Lincecum allowed six hits while striking out nine in San Francisco’s 1-0 loss to Colorado on Wednesday night.
He ranks among the major league leaders in wins, ERA and strikeouts (92), while surrendering just three home runs in 90 2-3 innings.
This will be Lincecum’s first appearance against Detroit. He went 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in two interleague starts last season.
The Giants, though, have been giving their pitchers little run support over the past week, crossing the plate three times or less in four of their last five contests.
San Francisco was swept in a three-game series with Oakland over the weekend, losing the finale 5-3 on Sunday to fall to a major league-worst 13-22 at home.
“Home is supposed to be your sanctuary,” Giants second baseman Ray Durham said. “We’re short on talent but we have more heart than anybody in the league. We were playing good and then we get swept by these guys.”
A matchup against an AL team may not help, as San Francisco is winless in six interleague games this season.
Detroit, meanwhile, has won six straight and eight of nine, including a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.
“People buried us, and they should have,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Now we’ve got a chance to get them excited again.”
Detroit is 4-2 in interleague play this season, but is 2-4 all-time against San Francisco. These teams haven’t met since June 2005, when the Tigers won two of three games at home.