The New York Yankees will have to overcome last season's American League Most Valuable Player in Justin Verlander as they take on the Detroit Tigers in the rubber match of a three-game set at Comerica Park.
Verlander, though, will try to bounce back from his last start when he had a rare off-night, giving up five runs and 10 hits in six frames in the Tigers' loss to Boston this past Tuesday.
"I can't say I pitched bad but it was a battle because of the way that they were putting together at-bats against me," said Verlander. "There were a lot of guys on (base) and a lot of high-intensity pitches."
Detroit's ace will try to avoid losing three starts in a row for the first time since 2008. A return home to Detroit could be the perfect cure to the recent struggles, as Verlander has a 1.37 ERA at Comerica Park this season
Verlander is 4-3 with a 4.16 ERA in 11 career starts against the Yankees. He went six innings and left in line for a win earlier this season versus New York, but the bullpen could not keep the Tigers ahead.
The Tigers' lineup has been depleted by injuries as of late, but Miguel Cabrera made up for it on Saturday by going 3-for-4 and hitting two deep home runs to power the offense. Omir Santos gave Detroit a 4-3 victory in the contest with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning.
"Great team win," said Brennan Boesch, who came home on Santos' game-winner. "It was an up-and-down kind of game, but it was a great win, and hopefully it can build some momentum for us."
Quintin Berry has been a spark for Detroit in the series so far, going 4-for-8 with a double, triple, and RBI.
The Tigers are in third place in the AL Central and trail the White Sox by five games coming into Sunday.
New York's Phil Hughes will take the mound with the intention of helping his club avoid a losing skid. Hughes had a disappointing performance his last time out, as he gave up 11 hits and seven runs to the Angels. The right-hander avoided a losing decision in the matchup as his team battled back before eventually losing. Hughes went 3-1 with a 2.80 ERA in his four prior outings. Hughes has allowed a home run in 10 straight starts and has allowed Cabrera to hit three homers in 14 at-bats during their rivalry.
The Yankees left 24 on base and went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in Saturday's loss, which clearly was the difference in the one-run thriller. Designated hitter Eric Chavez's lone double was the only extra base hit for the visitors.
New York's manager Joe Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long were both ejected from Saturday ball game.
"We just couldn't get the hit," said Girardi. "We were patient, we got the walks, the hit-by-pitches -- we just never got the hit. And that was kind of the story the whole night."
New York will try to duplicate the results of its first series with Detroit, as it took two of three from the Tigers earlier in the season.
Detroit's former star outfielder Magglio Ordonez will be announcing his retirement during a ceremony prior to today's first pitch.