Interleague Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, May 18th (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (18-20) at Detroit Tigers (18-20), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton (2-3, 4.05) Detroit - Justin Verlander (4-1, 2.47)
(Sports Network) - Justin Verlander hasn't suffered defeat in more than a month and the Detroit Tigers would like to keep it that way when they entertain the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight in the opener of a three-game interleague series from Comerica Park.
Verlander is 4-0 with a 2.57 earned run average in his last six starts and recently toed the rubber in Sunday's 3-1 win at Oakland in which he delivered seven innings of one-run ball with eight K's and just one walk. He had to leave the game because of a callus on his right thumb, but should be ready to go Friday night. The recent victory lifted the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner's record to 4-1 in eight starts to go along with a 2.47 ERA.
The hard-throwing right-hander, who is 1-1 in four starts in the Motor City this season, will face Pittsburgh for the second time in his career. In a 6-2 win back on June 11, 2010, Verlander held the Buccos to a pair of runs and four hits in seven innings with three strikeouts and four walks. He is 15-2 with a 2.94 ERA lifetime during interleague play.
Detroit will most likely be out for blood tonight after getting swept in two games by the Minnesota Twins -- the worst team in baseball -- at home.
After dropping an 11-7 decision in the opener versus Minnesota, the Tigers suffered a 4-3 loss Thursday afternoon. Tigers starter Doug Fister fell to 0-2 on the season and was reached for four runs, three of which were earned, and nine hits in six innings. It didn't help the Tigers either that Minnesota jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
Andy Dirks, Prince Fielder and Brennan Boesch all homered for Detroit, which lost for the fifth time in seven tries and fell to 7-9 this month.
"We kept the game close today. We just couldn't get over the hump," Dirks said.
Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson was held out of the lineup because of an abdominal strain. He suffered the injury Wednesday and is day-to-day. Jackson is batting .331 with five homers, 17 RBI and 29 runs this season.
Pittsburgh ended a two-game slide and won for the fourth time in six tries with Thursday's 5-3 win over Washington in the finale of a two-game set from Nationals Park.
Andrew McCutchen belted a pair of home runs to extend his hitting streak to six games and Rod Barajas finished 3-for-4 with a two-run homer for the Pirates, who are 2-2 so far on a seven-game road trip. James McDonald took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed three runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and one walk.
"My goal at the end of the day is to see my team walk off with a victory," he said. "We accomplished that today. I kept my team in the game the best I could and the bullpen and the guys stepped up and kept it going."
Joel Hanrahan tossed a scoreless ninth for his eighth save.
Barajas owns three homers in his last seven games for the Pirates.
Pittsburgh will hand the ball to Charlie Morton tonight and he is aiming for back-to-back winning decisions for the first time this season. Morton ended a personal two-game slide his previous time out in a 5-2 triumph over Houston as he yielded two runs -- one earned -- and seven hits in six innings of work.
Morton improved to 2-3 with a 4.05 ERA in six starts this season and is 0-1 in a pair of road outings. The right-hander has never faced the Tigers in his career.
The Pirates won two of three matchups with Detroit last year and are 81-130 all-time in interleague action. They went 8-7 against the American League a year ago, while Detroit is a solid 141-124 against the Senior Circuit.
05/18 10:50:40 ET