The Detroit Tigers hope Justin Verlander can rebound from his poor performance in the All-Star Game as they square off with the Baltimore Orioles in the rubber match of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
The Tigers had their six-game winning streak snapped on Saturday as they fell 8-6 to Baltimore in a 13-inning thriller. Detroit rallied in the ninth inning to tie the game at five, but Jose Valverde and Joaquin Benoit each blew a lead in extra innings. Taylor Teagarden hit a two-run, walk-off home run in his Orioles debut to give the home team the extra innings victory.
Saturday's back and forth game between these clubs was one of the most exciting of the season. Despite the failed save attempts by Detroit's bullpen, it still has the support of its manager.
"I feel confident with Benoit against anybody," manager Jim Leyland said. "And Valverde the same. I feel confident in those guys no matter what."
Miguel Cabrera continues to lead Detroit's offense and has been locked in so far in the series, going 5-for-10 at the plate with a home run, walk, and three runs scored. Austin Jackson's 16-game hitting streak came to an end on Saturday as he went 0-for-6 with a walk in the loss.
First baseman Prince Fielder brought his season batting average to .301 by going 2-for-6 and driving in a run. Quintin Berry had a strong showing in the extra-inning thriller with three hits and two RBI.
Detroit's starter Max Scherzer struggled early on and allowed four runs on nine hits in five innings. Now it will be Verlander's turn in the final leg of the three-game set.
Verlander's 9-5 record and 2.58 ERA in the first half of the season earned him the starting position for the American League in the All-Star Game. However, Detroit's ace was uncharacteristically ineffective in his one inning of action versus the National League and will look to erase that memory today.
Verlander is 6-0 in nine career starts versus Baltimore.
The Orioles, who have still lost 10 of their last 15 games, will send 28- year old Miguel Gonzalez to the hill today to counter Verlander. The rookie right-hander won his first career start on Friday, as he pitched seven innings while allowing just three hits and one run to the Angels. The strong showing earned Gonzalez a spot in the rotation.
"All the hard work, the ups and downs I've had, obviously that pushed me back a little bit, but I'm here now," said Gonzalez. "And I'm going to do my best to help out the team and just keep going."
Baltimore's offense was in a serious slump heading into Saturday. The O's had a much-needed outburst. Nick Markakis appears to be back on track as he went 3-for-6 with a walk in just his second game back in the lineup since May 29.
Adam Jones also went 3-for-6 in the victory while J.J. Hardy and Robert Andino each hit clutch home runs.
Jones, who leads the Orioles in batting average, home runs and hits, has gone 6-for-35 at the plate so far in July. The good news for the center fielder is that he is 5-for-9 with two doubles in his career versus Scherzer.
Baltimore is in second place in the American League East and trails the New York Yankees by eight games heading into Sunday.
The Tigers will host the Orioles at Comerica Park on Aug. 17-19.