Justin Verlander has the difficult task of following up staff mate Max Scherzer on Thursday when the Detroit Tigers try to clinch a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Scherzer was once again on point in Wednesday's 6-2 win, as became the first pitcher to start a season 13-0 since Roger Clemens' 14-0 start in 1986.
Detroit put up four runs in the second inning and that was all Scherzer would need, as he went on to allow only two runs over 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight. Austin Jackson made a couple of dazzling catches in center field to support the right-hander, who won for the sixth time in as many starts.
"It's hard to believe, to be honest with you, that somebody is 13-0 in this day and age," manager Jim Leyland said. "But he is, and we'll take it. We'll accept it and be happy for him, and hopefully he goes 14-0."
It wasn't all good news for the Tigers, as second baseman Omar Infante exited with a left shin contusion after taking a hard slide from Colby Rasmus while trying to turn a double play in the fourth inning. Although X-rays came back negative, the Tigers did not hide their displeasure.
"We're really mad about that slide," Scherzer said.
Two innings later, Blue Jays reliever Todd Redmond went up and in with a fastball that nearly missed Torii Hunter's head, which resulted in both benches spilling out onto the field and heated words were exchanged.
Looking ahead to Thursday's series finale, Detroit's Justin Verlander will step on the same hill where he recorded a no-hitter in 2011. However, he'll hope to avoid a fifth straight start without a win, which would match the longest such stretch in his career.
"I feel like that start kind of made me the pitcher that I am," Verlander said. "It was really the first time in my career where I had a pitch or two not working great but I was able to find my rhythm with those as the game went along and totally use some other pitches. My slider was huge for me that game. It just kind of felt like that matured me as a pitcher, and I was able to use those lessons moving forward."
Verlander is just 8-5 on the year with a 3.77 ERA and hasn't won since beating Cleveland back on June 7 to cap a four-start winning streak.
For Toronto, Esmil Rogers makes his first career start versus the Tigers. The right-hander has shuffled between the bullpen and the rotation this season, going 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts. In his most recent outing, Rogers tossed six scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Saturday, as he allowed six hits and fanned six but came away with a no-decision.
The Tigers have won eight of the last 10 meetings in the head-to-head series.