In contention for a pitching triple crown, Verlander will try to become the first Tigers pitcher since 1946 to win at least 10 consecutive starts Wednesday and help Detroit complete a three-game sweep of the host Cleveland Indians.
Detroit (80-62) scored eight runs in the first two innings Tuesday en route to a 10-1 victory at Progressive Field. Every Tigers starter recorded at least one hit and Victor Martinez(notes) drove in three runs.
The Tigers, who swept second-place Chicago over the weekend, has scored eight runs or more in five of six games this month. With the loss, the Indians dropped one-half game behind the White Sox and 8 1/2 back of Detroit.
“It’s not over yet,” said Martinez, who also had three RBIs on Monday in Detroit’s series-opening 4-2 win. “We’ve got 20 games and we have to keep going until we’re in.”
Verlander (21-5, 2.34 ERA) will continue his quest to become the first pitcher to lead the AL in wins, strikeouts and ERA since Minnesota’s Johan Santana(notes) in 2006. He currently leads in all three categories after allowing one run in 7 1-3 innings of Friday’s 8-1 victory over Chicago.
Now, Verlander has a chance to become the first Detroit pitcher to win 10 or more consecutive starts since Hal Newhouser tied a club record by winning 11 in a row in 1946. The last pitcher in the majors to win at least 10 straight starts in one season was Santana with 12 in a row in 2004.
“I’ve said it time and time again, this is the time of year when all the hard work in the offseason comes into play,” Verlander told the Tigers’ official website. “This is precisely why you have that little bit of extra drive in the offseason, to do that extra set (of weights) or extra rep or run a little bit harder.”
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in two matchups with Cleveland this season and 8-1 with a 2.65 ERA in his last 11 starts against the Indians. He’ll try to help the Tigers record their first sweep at Cleveland since Sept. 22-24, 2009.
A victory Wednesday would also be Detroit’s sixth consecutive overall and seventh in a row over the Indians (70-69).
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson(notes) (11-8, 2.92) will seek his first win over Detroit in seven career starts. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.74 ERA versus the Tigers, including 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in three starts this season.
Masterson was less than dominant in Friday’s 5-4 victory at Kansas City, giving up four runs over seven innings. He has allowed four or more runs in two of his last three starts after yielding three or fewer in each of his previous five.
“Overall it wasn’t good as I was hoping, but, in a sense it was. We got ourselves a victory,” Masterson told the Indians’ official website.