Justin Verlander tries to pitch the Detroit Tigers to a series win on Thursday when they play the rubber match of their three-game set with the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.
Verlander has dominated the Twins of late, posting a 9-0 mark with a 1.67 ERA in his last 10 starts against them. He's beaten them twice already this season and owns a 14-7 lifetime mark against them with a 3.04 ERA in 25 starts.
The former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner will be looking to bounce back from a hard-luck loss to Kansas City his last time out, as he allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings, dropping him to 12-9 on the year to go along with a 3.51 ERA.
"I feel that my stuff has been better, specifically my breaking ball," Verlander said after the loss. "So I'm definitely happy where I'm heading going into the last month of the year and hopefully the postseason."
After losing Tuesday's opener, Detroit evened this series at a game apiece on Wednesday, as Torii Hunter stroked a go-ahead, two-run double as part of a four-run seventh inning in the Tigers' 7-1 victory.
Victor Martinez capped the two-out rally with a run-scoring double, while Miguel Cabrera put the game away in the eighth with a bases-loaded double that plated all three runners to help the Tigers to their third win in four games.
Drew Smyly (5-0) earned the victory after retiring all three hitters he faced in relief of starter Anibal Sanchez, who struck out eight over 6 2/3 frames of one-run ball.
Jose Veras recorded the final out of the eighth before spinning a 1-2-3 ninth to secure his 20th save of the season.
Minnesota starter Kevin Correia (8-10) held the AL Central leaders scoreless over the first six frames, but was charged for all four runs -- two earned -- in the decisive seventh inning.
"That's the position you're trying to get yourself in, a one-run lead in the seventh with two outs. You end up giving up four runs it's tough," Correia lamented. "You pitch well and you have nothing to show for it really."
Brian Dozier knocked in the lone run for the Twins, who have lost five of their last six games.
Getting the call for the Twins on Thursday will be rookie left-hander Matt Albers, who suffered his first big league loss on Saturday. Albers had not allowed a run in winning his first two assignments, but was roughed up by the Chicago White Sox to the tune of five runs and eight hits in seven frames to raise his ERA to 1.85.
"I haven't seen much of him," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He's not an overpowering guy. He's a left-handed stylish type pitcher, pretty good. His numbers are very good."
Detroit is 9-6 against the Twins this season.