The veteran right-hander looks to avoid a third straight loss Thursday night while trying to continue his dominance over the Indians, who are hoping to avoid their first 11-game losing streak in more than 81 years in the finale of this three-game series.
The Tigers (81-70), who’ve won three in a row since losing nine of 12, remain 2 1/2 games ahead of Minnesota in the AL Central. The division frontrunners open a four-game set Monday at Comerica Park.
Cleveland (61-90), meanwhile, has lost 14 of 15 and on the verge of dropping 11 in a row for the first time since Sept. 2-16, 1928. The last-place Indians are 4-13 against the Tigers.
“We have nobody to blame but ourselves for where we are,” closer Kerry Wood(notes) said of the Indians’ awful season. “The organization has the right stuff in place. They pay attention to the small stuff that a mid-market team has to do, but the players just underachieved.”
Facing Verlander (16-9, 3.44 ERA) might not make it easier for the Indians to end their skid in this contest.
The right-hander, who’s two wins shy of matching his career high set in 2007, is 3-0 while allowing one run in 23 innings over three starts against Cleveland this season. He’s 7-10 with a 5.37 ERA in 18 career starts versus the Indians.
Verlander, though, is 0-2 with a 4.87 ERA in his last three starts overall since winning three in a row. He allowed five runs and nine hits while throwing a season-high 128 pitches in 7 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss at Minnesota on Saturday.
The Tigers scored 10 or more runs for the first time since a 10-7 win at Los Angeles on Aug. 24.
“The big boys stepped it up,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Carlos is one of the big boys, but it’s not fair to ask him to do too much because he’s missed so much time. It’s good to have him back.”
The right-hander, who’s making his fourth straight start and first against the Tigers since being acquired from Philadelphia in the deal involving Cliff Lee(notes), allowed five runs in six innings of a 7-0 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 13.
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