Tampa Bay (70-58) at Detroit (68-60)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 55° F
  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sun Aug 30, 2009
  • TV: FSD
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Justin Verlander(notes) has been dominant at home through most of the season, but not in his last two outings.

He’ll try to avoid a third straight home loss and attempt to tie for the major league lead in victories Sunday when the Detroit Tigers take on the Tampa Bay Rays.

Verlander (14-7, 3.38 ERA) went 7-0 with a 1.66 ERA in his first 10 starts at Comerica Park this year, but is 0-2 with a 5.14 ERA in his last two. His most recent start in Detroit was a 3-1 loss to Seattle on Aug. 19 in which he yielded three runs over eight innings.

The right-hander pitched worse Monday against the Angels, but got credit for a 10-7 win. He gave up four runs and a season-high 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings.

Verlander is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four career starts against the Rays.

Detroit (68-60) and Tampa Bay (70-58) have split the first two games of this four-game series thanks to strong efforts by rookie starters for each team.

The Tigers’ Rick Porcello(notes) and four relievers combined on a six-hitter Friday in a 6-2 victory. One day later, the Rays’ David Price(notes) and three relievers combined on a six-hitter of their own to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 win.

Price earned his first career road win Saturday as Ben Zobrist(notes) and Carlos Pena(notes) each drove in a run in the second inning.

“We needed to get a win on the road,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.

The AL Central-leading Tigers fell to 9-18 against AL East opponents after failing to get an extra-base hit.

“We hit a few balls on the nose, but we didn’t do anything,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera(notes) is hitless in eight at-bats in this series after batting .463 (25 for 54) with four homers, 15 RBIs and 12 runs scored in his previous 13 games. Cabrera’s .376 average at home remains among the best marks in baseball.

The Rays, who are chasing Boston in the AL wild-card race, have managed seven runs over their last three games. Leadoff hitter Jason Bartlett(notes) is hitless in 10 at-bats in that span, Pena is 1 for 8, Evan Longoria(notes) 1 for 12 and Carl Crawford(notes) 1 for 10.

Tampa Bay activated second baseman Akinori Iwamura(notes) from the 60-day disabled list Saturday, and he went 1 for 2 with two walks in his first action since May 24. Iwamura missed 81 games while recovering from left knee surgery.

Jeff Niemann(notes) (12-5, 3.87) looks to earn a fourth straight win when he takes the mound Sunday for Tampa Bay. The rookie yielded six runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 12-7 victory Monday at Toronto to improve to 3-0 with a 4.05 ERA in his last five outings.

The right-hander is 8-1 with a 3.35 ERA in 13 starts since the start of June, and now leads all major league rookies in wins.

Niemann’s lone career appearance against the Tigers came last Sept. 27, when he gave up one run over three innings of relief and got charged with a 4-3 loss.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Niemann TB vs. J. Verlander Det
13-6 Record 19-9
3.94 ERA 3.45
125 K 269
59 BB 63
1.35 WHIP 1.18

Scoreboard

Sunday, Aug 30