The right-hander looks to continue his recent success overall and against the Indians in the opener of a key three-game set Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
While Cleveland (35-29) has lost 14 of 19, Detroit has won 11 of 16 to move within two percentage points of the Indians.
Though Cleveland swept the Tigers (36-30) at home April 29-May 1, the Indians have dropped five straight and been outscored 101-49 while losing 15 of 17 at Comerica Park.
“We’re still in first place, right?” outfielder Michael Brantley(notes) told the Indians’ official website. “At the end of the day, that’s what we look at. We have to win baseball games to stay in first place—that’s no secret. That’s what we need to do.”
Facing Verlander (7-3, 2.89 ERA) might not be the ideal way for Cleveland to end their struggles in Detroit.
The Tigers’ ace is 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA his last nine starts against the Indians, including 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA his last four at Comerica Park.
Verlander has not lost since April 27, and is 5-0 with a 2.14 ERA his last seven starts overall. He’s allowed three runs and struck out 20 in 23 2-3 innings to win his last three outings, including Thursday when he yielded a run and struck out 10 in eight innings of a 4-1 win over Seattle.
“I don’t feel like this is my best run, but I feel like I’m pitching pretty well,” he said. “I just want to keep this momentum going.”
The Indians have averaged 2.0 runs while losing nine of 11.
Cabrera is batting .337 with 16 RBIs the last 21 games, but hitting .185 (5 for 27) with 10 strikeouts against Verlander.
The right-hander is 0-4 with a 3.79 ERA in eight starts since he posted a 2.18 ERA while winning his first five starts. He allowed two runs in eight innings of a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Minnesota on Wednesday.
“Personally, you can only do what you can do,” Masterson said. “I’d be happier than happy if we (get) a win, and it doesn’t necessarily go on my record.”
Masterson is 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA in four starts versus Detroit, but he allowed two earned runs and struck out seven in seven innings of a 5-4 win against the Tigers on May 1.
Former Indian Victor Martinez(notes) is 4 for 8 with two doubles against Masterson, and 8 for 16 with six RBIs his last four games overall. Martinez scored on Ramon Santiago’s(notes) triple to give Detroit a 2-1, 10-inning win over Tampa Bay on Monday.
Magglio Ordonez(notes) went 0 for 2 in his first game after missing a month with an ankle injury. The Tigers slugger is batting just .168 this season, but .363 with 21 RBIs his last 24 games versus Cleveland at Comerica.