Trying to bounce back from his latest defeat, Verlander looks to help the Detroit Tigers snap the Twins’ five-game winning streak Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
Minnesota (35-45) is in the AL Central basement, but it’s averaged 7.2 runs while winning five in a row for the first time since an eight-game run June 11-21, 2011. Josh Willingham, Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe each homered in the Twins’ 8-6 win at Detroit on Tuesday.
“They’re swinging the bats pretty good,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “They’re like everyone else, they’ll go as far as their pitching takes them.”
Plouffe has four home runs and eight RBIs in the last five games while Willingham has three with nine RBIs in the last four. Mauer has batted .422 (19 for 45) with two homers during an 11-game hitting streak.
While Willingham and Plouffe are a combined 2 for 14 with five strikeouts versus Verlander (8-5, 2.69 ERA), Mauer is batting .392 (20 for 51) with three home runs against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP.
Making his first appearance versus Minnesota this season, Verlander is 5-0 with a 2.36 ERA in six starts against the Twins since losing to them April 27, 2010.
The right-hander had his three-start winning streak snapped when he gave up four runs and a season-high three homers in six innings of a 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Friday. It was the fourth time Verlander has allowed three or more home runs in his career.
“My changeup has been absent for a couple months now,” he told the Tigers’ official website. “I’ve been able to throw it for strikes, but it hasn’t had much action on it.”
Verlander hopes to help the Tigers (39-42) avoid a third straight defeat after winning three of four. Austin Jackson hit a two-run homer while Brennan Boesch added a solo shot and had three RBIs for Detroit on Tuesday.
Jackson is batting .372 with two homers and 13 runs scored during a 10-game hitting streak. He’s 3 for 16 with four walks against Minnesota’s Brian Duensing (1-4, 4.10), who hasn’t looked good in a starting role.
After making 30 straight appearances out of the bullpen to begin the season, Duensing has allowed seven runs and 12 hits over seven innings in two starts. The left-hander gave up three runs and eight hits in four innings of a 4-3 loss to Kansas City on Friday.
“It’s very frustrating,” Duensing said. “There were a lot more negatives than positives, I feel, in this start. Some of the positives were I went longer inning-wise, the ball felt good coming out of my hand. I made some good pitches. The negatives were I left the ball up a lot, a lot of misfires.
“It’s kind of a step forward, but not very far.”
Duensing, who has pitched four scoreless innings of relief versus Detroit in 2012, is 2-3 with a 5.90 ERA in seven starts against the Tigers.