A day after a rare rocky start from Justin Verlander(notes), the Tigers will turn to Edwin Jackson(notes) in hopes of avoiding a fourth straight loss Wednesday night as they continue a three-game set with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Verlander was on the mound Tuesday as Detroit (34-30) began its series in St. Louis, and that had meant nearly certain victory for the Tigers over the past two months. The right-hander was 7-0 with a 1.10 ERA in his last nine starts and hadn’t lost since April 17.
The Cardinals (35-30), however, got to him early, scoring four off Verlander in the first inning and chasing him after four in an 11-2 loss.
“I think after the first inning, I was just gassed,” Verlander said. “I couldn’t get my legs underneath me. It was a weird feeling.”
As good as Verlander’s been, though, he doesn’t even have the best ERA in the Tigers’ rotation. That belongs to Jackson (6-3, 2.24 ERA), who is 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in his past seven starts.
Jackson’s outing Thursday against the Chicago White Sox was his worst in that stretch, and was also the only one where he didn’t factor in the decision. He gave up five hits, four walks and two runs over five innings, leaving after throwing 99 pitches in Detroit’s 4-3 loss.
Despite that performance, Jackson has an AL-best 1.55 ERA on the road.
His lone start against the Cardinals came on May 18, 2008, at Busch Stadium with Tampa Bay. Jackson allowed a run and six hits over 5 1-3 innings, striking out seven and walking four as St. Louis won 5-4.
The Cardinals have won four of six after losing five in a row, and their offense got a much-needed boost with their 11-run, 14-hit performance on Tuesday. St. Louis had averaged 3.7 runs in losing seven of 10 games heading into this series.
“You can’t figure this game at all,” manager Tony La Russa said. “We haven’t been scoring in bunches.”
Albert Pujols(notes) had one of the Cardinals’ seven extra-base hits in the opener, a solo home run in the sixth that was the fifth time he’d gone deep in his last five games. Pujols’ major league-leading 23rd blast lifted his career regular-season average against the Tigers to .541 (20 for 37) with four homers.
The Tigers’ offense, meanwhile, has especially struggled of late. They’ve scored three or fewer runs in their past six games, and with Tuesday’s loss fell to 8-21 when they fail to score four or more.
Detroit’s biggest run producers are the ones coming up empty. Curtis Granderson(notes), Miguel Cabrera(notes) and Brandon Inge(notes), who have a total of 117 RBIs, are hitting a combined .177 with five RBIs over the past six games.
Cabrera and Inge both homered in the opener, though, and they’ll look for more production against Todd Wellemeyer(notes) (5-6, 5.50). St. Louis’ worst starter this season, Wellemeyer is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his last three starts.
He didn’t take a loss Thursday at Florida, but gave up 11 hits and five runs in six innings of the Cardinals’ 6-5 victory.
Wellemeyer has faced Detroit eight times, but his outing at Comerica Park on June 26 was his first start. He pitched five shutout innings in the Tigers’ 3-2 win in 11.