The Detroit Tigers had a long night as they celebrated their first division title since 1987, but they’d like to focus on the postseason.
Verlander will try to become the first Tiger to win 12 consecutive starts Sunday when the AL Central champs look to avoid losing three of four to the Oakland Athletics.
After its 12-game winning streak was snapped with Thursday’s 6-1 series-opening defeat, Detroit (88-64) won the Central on Friday with a 3-1 victory. It was the club’s first division crown since winning the AL East 24 years ago.
The Tigers were admittedly tired during Saturday’s 5-3 loss.
“We couldn’t get the big hit today,” manager Jim Leyland said after his team left seven on base.
Detroit might not need much offense with Verlander (23-5, 2.36 ERA) on the hill. The right-hander leads the majors in wins, innings (236) and strikeouts (238) and could become the first 24-game winner since Arizona’s Randy Johnson(notes) went 24-5 in 2002.
“He’s the best pitcher I’ve ever had,” Leyland said after Verlander threw seven innings of six-hit ball in Tuesday’s 5-0 road win over the Chicago White Sox.
With a victory Sunday, Verlander would become the first Tiger to win 10 consecutive road starts since Denny McClain won 16 in a row from April 21-August 16, 1968.
Verlander, though, is just 2-4 with a 3.06 ERA in seven starts in Oakland. In his last start by the Bay, he yielded four runs and eight hits over six innings in a 6-2 loss April 16.
The A’s (69-83) will counter with Guillermo Moscoso(notes) (8-8, 3.44). After going 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in his previous two starts - including a franchise-record stretch of retiring 30 straight - the right-hander gave up three runs in 4 2-3 innings of Tuesday’s 6-3 home loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“The ball was coming out of his hand pretty good, but it seemed like it was up a little bit and in the middle of the plate, where normally he’s pretty good about hitting corners and spots,” manager Bob Melvin told the A’s official website. “With the amount of pitches he threw the last time out (career-high 129) and the amount of pitches he had at that point in the game (92), I felt it was time to get him out.”
Moscoso also lasted 4 2-3 innings in his first career start against the Tigers, an 8-3 road loss July 19 when he allowed seven runs and a career-high nine hits.
Tigers catcher Victor Martinez(notes), 2 for 3 with a double versus Moscoso, is batting .382 (21 for 55) with three homers and 17 RBIs in his last 14 contests after his second straight two-hit game Saturday.
Right fielder David DeJesus(notes), who went 2 for 2 with a double against the right-hander on April 16, is batting a team-best .444 (12 for 27) with a homer and six RBIs in nine games against Tigers pitching in 2011.
Detroit hasn’t lost two straight on the road since an 0-3 stretch Aug. 7-10.
The A’s have won four of five at home in this matchup.