Tigers-Indians Preview

The Detroit Tigers suffered a significant loss before this
series between the AL Central’s top two clubs began.

The division leaders, though, continue to find a way to defeat
the second-place Cleveland Indians.

Justin Verlander will try to guide the Tigers to a 10th
consecutive victory Tuesday night at Progressive Field.

Detroit (65-45) entered this four-game series with plenty of
momentum after capping off a perfect eight-game homestand with
Sunday’s 3-2, 12-inning victory over the Chicago White Sox.
However, the Tigers found out Monday afternoon that All-Star
shortstop Jhonny Peralta wouldn’t appeal a 50-game suspension from
Major League Baseball for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED
scandal.

“It will change the look of our ballclub a little bit, but we’ll
move on,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said before
Monday’s opener.

It didn’t appear the Tigers were ready to do that Monday night
before rallying in the ninth for a 4-2 victory on former Indian
Victor Martinez’s RBI single and three-run homer by Alex Avila off
closer Chris Perez, who had converted his previous 11 save
chances.

Detroit extended its division lead to four games and ended
Cleveland’s 11-game home winning streak.

“It feels good after all the stuff that happened before the
game,” right fielder Torii Hunter said.

The Tigers, winners of six of seven at Progressive Field and 10
of 13 overall versus the Indians – now give the ball to Verlander
(11-8, 3.88) as they try to extend their longest winning streak
since a 12-game run Sept. 2-14, 2011.

It’s been a rocky season for the 2011 MVP and AL Cy Young Award
winner and six-time All-Star. The right-hander has already matched
his 2012 loss total and has walked four fewer batters in 23 starts
(56) than he did in 33 last year after issuing a season high-tying
five free passes in Wednesday’s 11-1 victory over Washington.

“My stuff was pretty good, but I was obviously erratic,”
Verlander said after throwing six innings of one-run ball.

That’s a good way to describe his season, as he’s allowed five
or more runs in six of 23 starts – including five in five innings
of a 11-7 victory at Cleveland on May 22 – and one or none nine
times.

“I don’t think there’s been any pitcher in baseball, probably,
that’s worked as hard as I have this season to try to get things
right,” Verlander, 2-1 with a 5.82 ERA against the Indians this
season, told the Tigers’ official website. “… I’ve given
everything I possibly have to try to get things on the right path,
and slowly but surely working in the right direction.”

The Indians are hoping for more of the same from fellow All-Star
Justin Masterson (13-7, 3.33), who will try to extend the club’s
brilliant run of starting pitching. With Corey Kluber throwing 7
1-3 scoreless innings Monday, the Indians’ rotation has a 2.12 ERA
over the last 25 games.

Masterson (13-7, 3.33) is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA during that span
after giving up one run in 6 2-3 innings of Thursday’s 6-1 victory
over the White Sox.

“I was pitching and battling and trying to make things work,” he
said after his third straight winning start. “The overall sense is
we played well as a team.”

Masterson, though, has a 7.71 ERA in losing both his starts to
Detroit this year.

Martinez is 3 for 4 versus Masterson in those contests and 9 for
19 lifetime. The Tigers designated hitter is batting .400 against
Indians pitching this season following Monday’s three-hit
effort.

MLB batting leader Miguel Cabrera, 12 for 34 with two homers off
Masterson, finished with one hit in four at-bats Monday while
making his first start in five games due to an abdominal
strain.