Tigers-Indians Preview

The Associated Press

Thursday's postponement prevented Justin Verlander from an opportunity to help push the Detroit Tigers into a share of the AL Central lead.

An extra day of rest to face one of the league's worst clubs might not be as beneficial as it appears, though.

Verlander takes the mound as visiting Detroit opens a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians on Friday night.

The Tigers (75-67) were primed to force a tie atop the Central with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday after winning the previous two games, but rain forced the teams' final showdown of the season to be pushed back to Monday.

Manager Jim Leyland said he hopes his club can continue its winning ways in order to take advantage of potential Chicago defeats - something it hasn't done recently.

When (the White Sox have) lost and we're not (playing them), we haven't been able to take advantage of that,'' Leyland said. ''Sometime over the next couple weeks, we're gonna have to do that.''

Verlander (13-8, 2.91 ERA) struggled in his last outing, giving up six runs - including four in the first - in six innings of a 6-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.

"Right off the bat, it just wasn't his night," Leyland said. "A lot of teams plan on going right after him early. They just ambushed him, and it worked."

The right-hander has dropped both of his starts versus the Indians this season after going 9-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his previous 12 outings against them. He allowed two runs in eight innings in a tough-luck 2-1 loss May 24, then gave up five runs in seven innings of a 5-3 defeat July 26.

Additionally, Verlander is 2-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 10 starts when pitching after five days of rest.

While Detroit seemingly has a favorable matchup this weekend, it dropped two of three to the Indians at home from Sept. 3-5, and is only 6-9 against the division rivals.

Cleveland (60-84) ended a five-game losing streak Thursday by scoring three runs in the ninth to rally for a 5-4 win at Texas. Ezequiel Carrera led off the inning with a homer, and Jason Kipnis added a two-run shot.

It marked a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Indians, who won for just the sixth time in 28 games.

''In the second half we've been struggling,'' Kipnis said. ''To end a road trip with a win in the last game takes a lot of the pressure off. It's better than going back (home) with our shoulders down and wondering why we lost another one.''

Corey Kluber will look to help Cleveland win back-to-back games for only the second time in the last month.

Kluber (1-3, 5.26) picked up his first career win against the Tigers on Sept. 3, giving up two runs in six innings of Cleveland's 3-2 victory. He couldn't sustain that momentum, though, allowing five runs - four earned - in 3 2-3 innings while letting a 4-0 lead slip away in an 8-7 loss to Minnesota on Sunday.

"The guys did a great job early of giving me a lead," Kluber said. "I didn't do a good job of making it stand up."

The Indians have won five of six between these teams in Cleveland this season.

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