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.
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."
|May 12, 2013||Austin Jackson||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 26, 2013||Phil Coke||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|April 26, 2013||Phil Coke||15-Day DL||Left groin strain|
|April 21, 2013||Octavio Dotel||Day-to-Day||Elbow inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Octavio Dotel||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|April 09, 2013||Victor Martinez||Day-to-Day||Lacerated right thumb|
|May 01, 2013||Vinnie Pestano||15-Day DL||Right elbow tendinitis|
|May 01, 2013||Vinnie Pestano||15-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|April 30, 2013||Nick Swisher||Day-to-Day||Sore left shoulder|
|April 25, 2013||Lou Marson||15-Day DL||Right shoulder soreness|
|April 20, 2013||Asdrubal Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - left wrist contusion|
|April 20, 2013||Brett Myers||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Justin Verlander wasn't about to let a win slip away in the rain.
Verlander returned to the mound after sitting through a 62-minute rain delay to get his fifth win and Miguel Cabrera hit another homer - maybe the luckiest of his career - as the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 11-7 on Wednesday night, sweeping the two-game series between the AL Central's top teams.
Verlander (5-4) was two outs from qualifying for a victory, when the game was stopped with the Tigers leading 9-5 in the fifth. The right-hander came back after the weather break and finished the inning to get the win, ending a run of five straight victories by the Indians over former Cy Young winners.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said his general rule is not let a pitcher return after sitting more than an hour. However, he made an exception because it was so close, and because Verlander is Verlander.
"Since I've been here, he's been our horse," Leyland. "He has earned that right. I thought he deserved it."
After the long delay in the fifth, the game was stopped for another 48 minutes in the eighth.
Victor Martinez hit two sacrifice flies off Ubaldo Jimenez (3-3) as the Tigers, who led 9-2 in the fifth, held on to move within one-half game of the first-place Indians.
After the second rain delay, Cabrera connected for a two-run homer off reliever Rich Hill .
It was the slugger's fifth homer in three games and 13th this season. The shot to right-center was helped over the wall by center fielder Michael Bourn , who ran back to the warning track and was in position to make the catch but had the ball bounce out of his glove and into the stands.
"It was a lucky home run," Cabrera said. "I was surprised. That's never happened to me."
Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer and Yan Gomes connected for the Indians, who will open a four-game series in Boston on Thursday - manager Terry Francona 's return to Fenway Park for the first time since leaving the Red Sox.
Down 9-2 after three, the Indians fought back within two runs but lost some momentum because of the delays.
"Every time we would get something going, the rain would come and kind of kill things," third baseman Mark Reynolds said. "It is what it is. There's nothing you can do about Mother Nature."
Verlander wasn't sharp for the third straight outing, allowing five runs and 10 hits. He walked one and struck out nine, but the five-time All-Star wasn't about to let a win slip away because of the weather.
While the grounds crew hauled out the tarp to cover the field in the fifth, Verlander stood on the mound and gave an incredulous look to umpire Tim Welke, the crew chief working second base. Verlander was aware a possible victory was being washed away since he would likely not be coming back after the delay.
As the tarp was still being rolled up nearly an hour later, Verlander went back out to warm up without his teammates and stayed in the game despite a lengthy wait between his 100th and 101st pitches.
Verlander knew during the stoppage that Leyland might not be willing to let him resume pitching.
"I was very much paying attention to the clock," he said. "I was kind of lobbying to Jim during the rain delay. If it was five minutes more, I was done."
When play resumed, he retired Mark Reynolds on a grounder to third and struck out Ryan Raburn looking.
Verlander took a seven-run lead into the fifth, but was touched up for three runs on Michael Brantley 's RBI single and Santana's homer, his eighth.
Verlander may be one of the AL's most dominant pitchers, but the 2011 Cy Young winner has only been average against the Indians. He came in 14-14 in 31 career starts against Cleveland, which had already beaten him once this year.
The Indians had Verlander on the ropes in the second, but couldn't come up with the big hit. Verlander gave up just one run and worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded situation by getting Brantley on a force.
The next time he took the mound, Verlander had a four-run cushion as the Tigers took advantage of two walks to score four runs in the third and take a 6-2 lead.
Jimenez, who allowed six runs in four innings, walked Torii Hunter with one out and then threw four consecutive balls to the dangerous Cabrera. Prince Fielder hit a ground-rule RBI double, and Martinez delivered his second sac fly to make it 4-2. Jhonny Peralta and Brayan Pena continued the onslaught against Jimenez with run-scoring doubles.
The Tigers didn't waste any time, scoring two runs in the first off Jimenez, who had pitched as well in his past four starts as in any stretch since joining the Indians in 2011.
NOTES: Francona said 1B Nick Swisher will rejoin the Indians in time for Friday's game in Boston. Swisher was placed on the paternity list Wednesday after his wife, JoAnna, had the couple's first child, a girl. ... The Tigers and Indians next meet on June 7-9 in Detroit. ... Cabrera is batting .466 (14 of 30) during an eight-game hitting streak. ... Leyland rested starting C Alex Avila , who is batting just .174 and mired in a 1-for-21 slump. Leyland doesn't know what's wrong with Avila. "I wish I did," he said. "I don't want to indicate that Alex isn't our catcher because he is, but at some point I have to do something - sit him down or go every other day for a while. I don't really have the formula just yet in my mind."