The American League East-leading New York Yankees will certainly be happy to put Justin Verlander in the rear-view mirror when they resume a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers from Comerica Park.
The Tigers' ace was dominant in the opener of the set on Monday, striking out 14 as Detroit cruised to a 7-2 victory.
Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera provided the early thunder with solo homers and the Tigers broke it open with a parade of singles to back Verlander, who snapped a personal two-start skid and beat the Yankees for the first time in three tries this season.
The All-Star right-hander gave up eight hits and a pair of unearned runs -- thanks to his own error -- and matched a career-high in strikeouts over eight innings. He issued one walk and threw 132 pitches.
"I was able to establish a good fastball and locate my changeup and breaking ball for strikes," said Verlander. "I was just trying to focus on making my pitches."
The Tigers supported him with 13 hits, including 11 singles, to win their ninth straight at home and fifth in a row overall. They were coming off a weekend sweep of Cleveland.
Detroit hasn't won 10 straight at Comerica Park since June 15-July 15, 2006.
Ivan Nova (10-6) continued to struggle for New York. He gave up a career-high nine runs in five innings of a loss to Baltimore in his last outing and on Monday was tagged for seven runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander is just 1-4 in his last nine starts.
"Every pitcher goes through it, you're going to go through struggles," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Nova. "You have to get through it."
"I'm leaving too many pitches in the middle (of the plate)," added Nova. "It was a tough day for me, but I have to turn the page and keep working. I still have my confidence. I know I can do better than this."
Eric Chavez went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles in defeat, while Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each picked up a pair of hits and an RBI. The Yankees had won three of four entering the contest and lead the AL East by 5 1/2 games over Baltimore.
"We swung the bats OK," Girardi added. "We got seven or eight hits against (Verlander). We just couldn't put them together."
Right-hander Phil Hughes will try to even the series for the Yankees on Tuesday. Hughes has been hot recently, compiling a 4-2 mark with a solid 2.39 ERA in his last seven starts, including a one-run, six-inning performance against the Orioles in his last outing. He's also won three straight starts against Detroit and is 5-3 lifetime against the Tigers.
Opposing Hughes will be Rick Porcello, who has had a lot of success against New York in the Motor City recently, amassing a 2-0 mark with a gaudy 1.35 ERA in his last three starts against the Yankees at Comerica. In his career, Porcello is 2-2 versus New York with an ERA of 4.71.
The Yankees, who were ousted in five games by the Tigers in last October's ALCS, have won four of seven clashes between these clubs thus far in 2012. New York, however, has lost in five of its last six regular-season visits to Detroit.