Justin Verlander goes after his 15th win of the season on Wednesday when the Detroit Tigers play the middle test of a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park.
Verlander, the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner and MVP, won for the second time in three starts with a sensational effort in Cleveland on Friday that saw him scatter six hits over seven scoreless innings. He is now 14-8 on the year with a 2.82 ERA.
"What I'm hoping is, coming down this stretch run, we know that every game's a must-win," Verlander said after his last start. "Maybe that will kick-start us a little bit into knowing that every game is a pressure game."
Verlander beat the A's the last time he faced them and is 6-5 in 12 starts against them with a 2.54 ERA.
While Verlander might be stating his case for another AL Cy Young Award, teammate Miguel Cabrera is hoping to unseat him as the league MVP.
Cabrera hit a pair of homers, including Detroit's first grand slam of the season, in a 12-2 thumping of Oakland on Tuesday.
"He's awesome," said Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder of Cabrera. "I'm just very happy for him."
Cabrera tallied three hits, six RBI and three runs scored. His grand slam in the eighth, a no-doubt shot into left-center field, gave him his 40th homer of the year.
"Our job is to win games," said Cabrera. "Hopefully we can get a good winning streak."
Detroit sits three games behind the Chicago White Sox for the AL-Central lead after they defeated the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.
Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer left the game after two innings with right shoulder fatigue. The American League strikeout leader was replaced by Darin Downs (2-1), who tossed 2 2/3 frames of two-hit ball to pick up the win.
A.J. Griffin (6-1), who was undefeated with a 1.94 ERA over his first 11 starts of his career, was touched for five runs on eight hits and a walk over 4 2/3 innings for Oakland, which has lost three of its last five on the heels of a six-game winning streak.
"(Griffin) didn't have his best stuff," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He was off today. It was the first time we've seen him like that."
Oakland, meanwhile, will rely on left-hander Brett Anderson, who has been terrific since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Anderson, though, had his worst outing since returning on Thursday in Anaheim, as the Angels battered him for five runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings to drop him to 4-1 to go along with a 1.93 ERA.
"I thought his stuff was as good as it was any of the other times he was out there," Melvin said. "He's continuing to pitch at a very high level and giving us a chance to win every single time."
Anderson, who is 2-1 in three starts against the Tigers, had surrendered one run or less in his first four assignments.
Detroit and Oakland split a four-game series from May 10-13 at the Coliseum.