With Verlander coming off three straight outstanding starts, the Tigers look to salvage their series finale with the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
Detroit (17-15) gave up nine runs through eight innings and a walk-off grand slam to Joe Crede(notes) with two outs in the 13th inning of a 14-10 loss Wednesday night, a day after dropping the series opener 6-2.
The Tigers entered this set having given up three runs in their previous three contests, two of which were shutouts.
Verlander (3-2, 4.50 ERA) pitched one of those games, throwing a two-hitter in a 1-0 win over Cleveland on Friday night. He struck out 11 for the third shutout and fourth complete game of his career.
After posting a 9.00 ERA during his first four starts, the right-hander recorded a 0.39 ERA and struck out 31 over 23 innings to win his last three.
Verlander went 35-17 with a 3.74 ERA in his first three seasons but struggled in 2008, going 11-17. His ERA soared to 4.84 and his rough start this year had many doubting his ability to return to form.
“This is why I told you guys that I don’t see how things can’t turn if I continue to throw the ball the way I’m throwing it,” Verlander told the Tigers’ official Web site. “I knew how I felt. I knew my stuff was there. There were just a couple fluke things that were going on.”
Verlander is 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 starts against the Twins.
Minnesota will counter with Scott Baker(notes) (1-4, 6.83), who’s had a difficult start after a breakthrough 2008. Baker, though, is coming off his first win of the year, pitching seven innings in an 11-0 win over Seattle on Friday night.
The right-hander lost his first four starts with a 9.15 ERA.
Baker won his last two decisions versus the Tigers and is 4-3 with a 3.69 ERA in 12 starts against them.
Detroit right fielder Magglio Ordonez(notes) is batting .429 (12 for 28) with two home runs, a triple and three doubles against Baker, but he’s been unable to get on track this season. He went 1 for 5 on Wednesday and is batting .239 with two homers and 12 RBIs.
After a rough start to his initial season with Minnesota (17-17) after spending his first nine years with the Chicago White Sox, Crede appears to be coming around. The third baseman is batting .237, but has four homers and 10 RBIs in his last 12 games.
He continues to be successful against Tigers pitching, homering in each of this series’ first two games to give him 24 in 301 at-bats versus Detroit.
“These guys have been great so far this year. It’s going to be fun to see what this team can do,” Crede said.