The Detroit Tigers have some work to do over the next two weeks if they want to reach the postseason.
If ace Justin Verlander pitches well, they have reason to be optimistic.
The right-hander looks to build on his last start and continue his recent success against the AL wild-card leading Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
A day after falling three games behind the Central-leading White Sox with a frustrating 5-4 loss at Chicago, Detroit (78-69) bounced back with a 12-2 rout of Oakland on Tuesday.
The Tigers have won five of seven overall and 10 of 13 at home, but are still three back of the White Sox and have a larger deficit to overcome in the wild-card race.
"Our job is to win games," said slugger Miguel Cabrera, who homered twice and drove in six runs. "Hopefully we can get a good winning streak.''
The Tigers might have dodged a blow even though right-hander Max Scherzer left after two innings because of a fatigued throwing shoulder. The team leader with 16 wins underwent an MRI that showed no structural damage.
Verlander (14-8, 2.82 ERA), meanwhile, has allowed one run, five hits and struck out 14 in 15 innings while winning his last two starts versus Oakland. That run came off a homer from Seth Smith on May 15 at Oakland, where he gave up one other hit and fanned eight in seven innings of a 3-1 win.
He is 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA against the A's (84-63) at Comerica Park, where he hasn't faced them since 2010.
Verlander allowed six runs in six innings of a 6-1 loss at Los Angeles on Sept. 8, but scattered six hits in seven innings of a 4-0 win at Cleveland on Friday.
Cabrera is 13 for 26 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last six games. Leading the AL with a .333 average and 129 RBIs, he also has 40 homers and continues to flirt with becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
"That's a hard thing to do. You've got to be lucky,'' Cabrera said. "Hopefully we get lucky in our division and win more games.''
Cabrera is 12 for 22 (.545) with those two homers and 13 RBIs in five games versus Oakland in 2012. He's 3 for 7 with a double against the A's Brett Anderson (4-1, 1.93), who hopes to rebound Wednesday from his worst start in five outings since returning from Tommy John surgery last month.
The left-hander allowed two earned runs in 26 innings to win his first four starts of 2012 before he allowed five in a six-run seventh inning of a 6-0 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday. Despite that rough frame, A's manager Bob Melvin continues to be pleased with Anderson's progress.
"I thought his stuff was as good as it was any of the other times he was out there," Melvin said. "He's continuing to pitch at a very high level and giving us a chance to win every single time.''
Anderson is 2-1 with a 2.51 ERA against the Tigers, but has not faced them since May 29, 2010, when he allowed three hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-0 victory at Comerica Park.
Brandon Moss went 3 for 4 with an RBI while Josh Reddick added two hits Tuesday for the A's, who have dropped two in a row after winning eight of nine.
Reddick is batting .455 (15 for 33) in nine games versus Detroit.