With the Tigers having dropped five of seven, Verlander tries to deliver another much-needed victory and become the major league co-leader in wins when Detroit hosts the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
Detroit (54-49) leads second-place Chicago by 1 1/2 games in the AL Central but is 7-11 since July 11, with Verlander (12-6, 3.15 ERA) delivering three of those wins.
In his last start Wednesday night at Texas, the right-hander helped snap his team’s three-game slide with a career high-tying 13 strikeouts in a 13-5 victory. He gave up three earned runs in seven innings.
Verlander has gone 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 36 innings over his last five starts. On Wednesday, he benefited from the Tigers’ season high-tying 19 hits.
Verlander, who has an AL-best 172 strikeouts and needs 12 to surpass his career high set in 2007, is 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA against the Orioles (44-60). He gave up three runs over six innings in a 6-3 win at Camden Yards on May 30, then beat Baltimore 5-3 on Aug. 16 by allowing two unearned runs in six innings - his only home start versus the Orioles.
Following the 13-run outburst in Verlander’s last outing, the Tigers scored 10 runs over their next three games. In Sunday’s 11-1 loss at Cleveland, they managed six singles and committed two errors, giving them 15 in the last seven contests.
Detroit dropped to 23-33 on the road, the worst such record of any first-place team, but plays 13 of the next 17 at Comerica Park where it is 31-16. The Tigers are 6-3 in their last nine home contests against the Orioles, who are in town for a four-game series.
Detroit faces a Baltimore club that’s dropped 12 of 16 and suffered a three-game sweep by visiting Boston this weekend, capped by Sunday’s 18-10 defeat. The Orioles are the AL’s worst road team at 16-34 and have lost seven of their last nine away from home.
In his second career start, right-hander Chris Tillman(notes) (0-0, 5.79) draws another tough matchup in Verlander. He made his major league debut Wednesday night opposite Kansas City ace Zack Greinke(notes).
Tillman gave up three runs - all on solo homers - in 4 2-3 innings of Baltimore’s 7-3 win.
“I feel like next time I’ll be a little more comfortable up there,” he said. “I’ll have my feet underneath me.”