Phillies-Tigers Preview

BY foxsports • May 25, 2016

Though he may be at the back end of his career, Miguel Cabrera is still capable of putting a team on his back for a stretch.

As the star slugger looks to stay hot, the Detroit Tigers seek their fourth consecutive win and eighth in nine games Tuesday night against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

Cabrera is playing a leading role for a Detroit team that has averaged 6.6 runs and batted .335 with 20 home runs while winning seven of its last eight games. He went 3 for 3 with the 36th multi-homer game of his career in Monday's 5-4 series-opening victory.

Not bad for someone who left Sunday's 9-4 win over Tampa Bay with a bruised knee.

"Miggy looks as good as I've seen him since I've been here," manager Brad Ausmus said.

The 10-time All-Star is 17 for 33 with seven long balls and 12 RBIs in his last nine contests. He's also batting .340 with 21 home runs in 90 meetings with Philadelphia.

The Tigers hope to keep putting up crooked numbers for Justin Verlander (3-4, 4.58 ERA), who has turned things around since posting a 6.49 ERA over his first six starts.

The veteran right-hander and six-time All-Star has compiled a 1.61 ERA while striking out 27 and lasting at least seven innings in each of his last three starts.

"I felt really close a bunch of times early in the season," he told the league's official website. "There were a couple pitches here and there that were costing me. So I just had to refine it a little bit, and the last three have been good."

Verlander earned his first victory since April 27 on Wednesday when he gave up three runs and struck out 10 over 7 1/3 innings in a 6-3 home win over Minnesota. He also became the second pitcher in franchise history with 2,000 Ks.

Verlander hasn't faced Philadelphia since 2007, though David Lough has gone 3 for 18 lifetime against him and Peter Bourjos 1 for 8. The Phillies have totaled nine runs and 25 hits in their last two after putting up eight and 22 over their previous four.

Odubel Herrera finished with three hits and Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph both homered Monday. Herrera, however, was taken out of the game in the seventh inning after manager Pete Mackanin was displeased with his lack of hustle on a groundout.

The Phillies (25-20) will give the ball to Jeremy Hellickson (4-2, 3.99) as they try to avoid their fourth loss in five games. The right-hander seeks his third straight win after allowing two runs over six innings in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over visiting Miami.

"He continues to throw an outstanding changeup," Mackanin explained. "He's changing speeds and he's been spotting his fastball very well."

Hellickson has gone 2-3 with a 1.86 ERA in five career starts against the Tigers (22-22), though he hasn't faced them since 2013. Justin Upton has gone 5 for 13 with two home runs and two doubles in the matchup and Cabrera is 4 for 11 with a long ball.

Upton's status is uncertain after sitting Monday with quad tightness. Cameron Maybin has hit well since coming off the disabled list, going 14 for 24 in seven games.