Former AL MVP and 2011 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander looks to pitch himself out of a current funk when the Detroit Tigers and Washington Nationals conclude a two-game set at Comerica Park.
Verlander has lost two straight, three of four starts and four of his past six decisions. He has allowed 17 runs over his previous four outings and was hammered for seven runs and 11 hits in six innings of a 7-4 loss against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who is 10-8 in 22 starts with a 3.99 earned run average, will face Washington for the second time in his career and won the first encounter back on June 16, 2010, when he struck out 11 batters and permitted three runs with no walks in eight innings of an 8-3 triumph.
In 10 starts at Comerica Park this season, Verlander is 4-4 with a 3.92 ERA.
Gio Gonzalez, meanwhile, has struck out a season-high 11 batters in each of his last two starts and will get the nod for the Nationals Wednesday night.
Gonzalez has recorded back-to-back no-decisions since winning four straight starts and hasn't lost since May 27 versus Baltimore. In a 9-7 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday, Gonzalez allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings and his record remained at 7-3 through 21 starts with a 2.97 ERA.
The left-hander, who is 3-1 in 10 starts outside of D.C. this season, will make his sixth career start against the Tigers and is 1-3 with a 5.33 ERA over the first five outings in this series.
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was roughed up in Tuesday's 5-1 loss and he surrendered a grand slam to Alex Avila in the sixth inning with the score tied at 1-1. Avila crushed a fastball around his knees to the seats in right-center field for his first career slam, as the Tigers pushed their winning streak to four games.
"I thought he pitched great. He just made that one bad pitch there," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of Strasburg.
Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez outdueled Strasburg and tossed seven innings of one-run ball for the victory, Detroit's eighth in the last nine tries. The Tigers are unbeaten (4-0) on their eight-game homestand.
Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera aggravated an abdominal injury that sidelined him four games last week and was removed in the eighth inning. He felt pain when charging a slow roller by Chad Tracy and was replaced by Ramon Santiago. Cabrera is listed as day-to-day.
The Tigers made a move Tuesday and acquired shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for right-handed pitcher Brayan Villarreal and outfielder Avisail Garcia. The three-team deal was highlighted by Boston landing starting pitcher and former NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox.
Detroit hopes Iglesias can live up to his hype.
"This guy is special defensively," Tigers president, CEO and GM David Dombrowski said on the club's website. "Our scouting reports have him as an All-Star shortstop. I don't know if he'll be that or not, but some of our scouting reports do. But somebody that has seen him play just sent me a note that said, 'In all my years in the game, the only two defensive shortstops that I've seen that are better are Ozzie (Smith) and (Omar) Vizquel."
Washington opened a five-game road trip on a sour note Tuesday and it was Avila's slam that spoiled it.
"I pitched well minus one pitch," Strasburg said. "It's tough, it's baseball. I tried to throw a fastball away and it came back over, and (Avila) put a good swing on it."
Strasburg allowed five runs total in seven innings of work, struck out seven and issued three walks in falling to 5-9.
Ryan Zimmerman drove in the lone run for the Nationals, who had won three in a row and four of the last five games.
With the MLB trade deadline set to close Wednesday afternoon, Johnson doesn't feel the club will make any major moves.
"I don't think we are going to do anything. We didn't do anything last year," Johnson noted on the team's website. "We have the players we want here. We just need them to do what they are capable of doing. We're fine."
Washington won both meetings with Detroit back in early May after losing the previous six matchups between the clubs.