Indians-Tigers preview

Published Sep. 1, 2013 9:09 a.m. EDT

Miguel Cabrera's hunt for another Triple Crown may resume on Sunday.
The Detroit Tigers' domination of the Cleveland Indians has never taken a break.
Detroit looks to wrap up another series sweep and an eighth straight victory over its closest pursuers in the AL Central.
Even without Cabrera in the lineup, the Tigers (80-56) kept rolling Saturday, picking up their 14th win in 15 tries against the Indians behind two Omar Infante home runs.
"Sometimes a team has got your number," Cleveland's Nick Swisher said after his team fell 8 1/2 games behind Detroit and remained 4 1/2 out of the second wild-card spot. "Just got to take it on the chin and keep moving. Keep fighting, that's all we can do."
Infante is batting .361 with two homers, three doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs in nine games against the Indians (71-64).
"Everybody knows Cabrera's a good hitter and we're better with him in the lineup," Infante said. "But we've got a good team. We've got good hitting. We've got everything."
Still, the Tigers hope to have their star back.
After making early exits on Thursday and Friday, Cabrera sat out Saturday's game with a strained left abdominal wall that has been bothering him for more than a month.
Cabrera didn't lose any ground in the Triple Crown chase - Baltimore's Chris Davis has gone three games without a home run - but that isn't general manager Dave Dombrowski's main concern.
"Our primary concern with Miguel Cabrera is his health," Dombrowski said. "As much as anybody would, we'd like to see him win the home run title, RBI title or Triple Crown, but he's playing for the good of the team."
Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.73 ERA) will look to bounce back from a pair of rough starts at Comerica Park in which he surrendered 11 runs in 12 innings.
Walks have been a problem of late, as the right-hander has surrendered three free passes in consecutive starts.
Home runs have also been a problem. After allowing 12 home runs through his first 24 starts, Verlander has yielded a long ball in four straight starts, giving up five overall.
Those two trends accounted for most of the damage Tuesday, when Verlander yielded five runs - three earned - in five innings of a 6-3 loss to Oakland.
A leadoff walk led to a two-run first inning for the Athletics.
"Even in that inning, there were times that I felt like I had really good stuff, but I couldn't control it," Verlander said. "I'd get in a rhythm for a couple pitches, and then get out of sync again."
Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.67) has also struggled with the long ball, surrendering five home runs over his last 21 innings.
On Tuesday, Salazar allowed two runs, three hits and two walks in four innings of a 2-0 loss to Atlanta.
Since throwing 103 pitches in his second start of the season, when he allowed four runs in 7 2-3 innings to Detroit, Salazar has yet to go beyond 77 in three starts.
Salazar's 120 innings between the major and minor leagues this season already far exceed his 87 2-3 in 2012.
"There's going to be a day when we can turn him loose and let that four turn into six or seven, but not right now," manager Terry Francona said.
Cabrera struck out his first three times against Salazar but homered in his final at-bat off the right-hander on Aug. 7, while Austin Jackson also homered.
Verlander has won three straight starts against the Indians, including eight innings of one-run ball on Aug. 6.
New acquisition Jason Kubel is 12 for 41 off Verlander with five doubles.