Tigers-Indians Preview

The Associated Press

Justin Verlander's difficulties began against the Cleveland Indians.

The Detroit Tigers ace, coming off his worst start of the season, will look to get back on track against the Indians Wednesday night.

Verlander (4-4, 3.17 ERA) began his season on a roll, posting a 1.55 ERA over his first seven starts. Then, he faced Cleveland (26-18) and surrendered three earned runs, six hits and a season-high five walks in five innings against the Indians on May 11.

According to Verlander, his rough start against Cleveland contributed to his most recent appearance Thursday, when he surrendered a career high-tying eight runs on six hits in 2 2-3 innings of a 10-4 loss against Texas

"It wasn't much of a night to begin with, but I'd definitely say the whole game kind of (was a) carryover from my last start,'' Verlander said. "I'm not somebody who is going to go home and pout about this; I'm somebody who is going to figure it out and figure it out in a hurry.''

He'll have to figure it out in a hurry versus the Indians - his 4.57 ERA in 31 career starts is his worst against any team he's faced at least 10 times. Cleveland is also responsible for four of the 10 career starts Verlander has allowed at least seven runs, and his 14 losses to the Indians are his most to any one team.

Fortunately for Verlander and the Tigers (24-19), teammate Max Scherzer shut down Cleveland's previously red-hot bats on Tuesday night, holding the Indians to two hits over eight innings in a 5-1 victory. He retired the last 22 hitters to face him, and Cleveland's three hits were its fewest since April 12.

"We've got to put that behind us,'' leadoff hitter Michael Bourn said. ''Tomorrow we've got Verlander and he's really the ace of their staff.''

Verlander has fared well against the Indians' top hitters. Nick Swisher, who missed Tuesday's game after his wife gave birth to their first child, is 12 of 56 with 20 strikeouts against Verlander, while Asdrubal Cabrera is 8 for 47 with 19 strikeouts.

Carlos Santana is 4 for 20, and Mark Reynolds has struck out nine times in 15 career at-bats against Verlander.

Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez (3-2, 5.31), meanwhile, has been pitching well of late, recording a 1.90 ERA over his last four starts. After walking 10 batters through his first 12 innings of the season and posting an 11.25 ERA after three starts, Jimenez has walked just nine batters since and Cleveland has won the last five games he has started.

That streak includes a win over Detroit on May 11, in which the right-hander yielded one run and three hits over six innings. He then struck out a season-high nine batters in his last start against Seattle, allowing two runs and seven hits in five innings en route to a no-decision in Cleveland's 6-3 victory over Seattle on Friday. Jimenez has struck out eight or more in three straight starts.

Jimenez will attempt to rein in Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has four home runs and seven RBIs over his last two games. Cabrera is riding a seven-game hitting streak and batting .413 (31 for 75) with eight homers and six doubles in the month of May.

"There aren't many guys who can do that," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Cabrera's latest shot. "That's why he is who he is.''

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