MIAMI (CBSSports) – While tuning up for the playoffs, the Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander will also try to break a lengthy drought.
Verlander will seek his first career hit in Sunday’s season finale and help the Tigers try to avoid a three-game sweep to the lowly Miami Marlins.
Verlander (13-12, 3.56 ERA) is set to seek redemption in the postseason after suffering one of Detroit’s losses in a World Series sweep to San Francisco last year. The right-hander enters the playoffs after failing to duplicate his recent stellar seasons.
He is on pace to record the fewest victories, fewest strikeouts and highest ERA since 2008. He’s also probably focused on another set of numbers.
Verlander is 0 for 24 as a hitter and 0 for 27 including the World Series. That’s the fourth-longest hitless streak by a Tigers pitcher since World War II and longest since the beginning of interleague play.
“He’s had to take a lot of kidding because he’s the one pitcher (in the rotation) who doesn’t have a hit,” manager Jim Leyland told the team’s website. “He’s actually hit a few balls pretty decent, in defense of him.”
Before heading to Oakland to start the AL division series, Detroit (93-68) will try to avoid getting its first sweep at the hands of Miami (61-100).
Former Marlin Anibal Sanchez and three relievers helped keep Miami scoreless for the first eight innings Saturday until Ed Lucas hit a tying two-out single in the ninth off Joaquin Benoit.
After Benoit’s second blown save in 26 chances, Giancarlo Stanton gave Miami a 2-1 victory with an RBI single in the 10th.
“It’s kind of the cherry on top of the last couple days,” Lucas said. “It’s a good experience to get a hit with two outs in the ninth to help us win the ballgame.”
Henderson Alvarez (4-6, 3.94) will try to lead the Marlins to their first three-game sweep since May 31-June 2, against the New York Mets. The right-hander, who has a 2.37 ERA in his last three starts, gave up two runs in the first inning against Philadelphia on Tuesday but kept the Phillies scoreless in his final six frames in a 2-1 loss.
“The key for a guy like Henderson is to learn from each start,” manager Mike Redmond told the team’s website. “He’s had one inning, one bump in the road, it seems like every single outing that kind of costs him the game or a couple of runs, or the big inning. Like any pitcher, you look at that, and say, ‘I’ve got to eliminate that big inning.'”
Alvarez won his only start against Detroit on July 28, 2012, while with Toronto. He gave up one run over seven innings in that 5-1 victory.
Verlander will face Miami for the first time in his career. Aside from Detroit, the Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers are the only teams he’s yet to face.
Miguel Cabrera, a virtual lock for a second consecutive AL batting title, is slated to sit out this game to rest up for the playoffs. He finishes with a .348 average after batting .330 in 2012 while winning the triple crown.
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