Verlander, Tigers look to take series lead over Yankees
The Detroit Tigers (62-48) were very close to dropping the first two games of a four-game set with the New York Yankees (58-54) Tuesday night, trailing 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning after falling 2-1 in the opener Monday.
But the bottom of the order came to life in New York. Light-hitting Andrew Romine hit his second home run of the season in the sixth, and Alex Avila came through with an RBI single to tie the game in the seventh.
Then Avila, who hit .162 in the entire month of July, came through in a big way in the 12th inning, smashing a solo shot over the right field wall to give the Tigers a lead. Joe Nathan induced three fly balls for the save to even up the series.
On Wednesday, it will be up to Justin Verlander to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. The 31-year-old has been more consistent in his past three starts, but Tigers fans are still waiting to see the dominant pitcher that won the MVP in 2011.
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Verlander picked up his third straight quality start Friday, holding the Colorado Rockies to two runs in a season-high eight innings. The veteran threw just 101 pitches to get through eight innings, marking his most efficient outing of the season.
Yankee Stadium has not been kind to Verlander in his last three starts. Though he didn't record a decision in any of those outings, Verlander posted a 5.21 ERA by surrendering 11 earned runs in 19 innings. The short porch in right field hurt Verlander against Yankee lefties, who have hit five home runs against him in those three games.
Luckily for Verlander, no batters in the Yankee lineup on Wednesday have hit more than one home run against him. The roster as a whole hits just .257 career against Verlander (not counting the suspended Alex Rodriguez, who hits .357 with four home runs against Verlander).
The Yankees will send out Chris Capuano to oppose Verlander Wednesday. Capuano has made two starts for the Yankees after spending the first three months of the season in Boston's bullpen. The 35-year-old has compiled an 0-1 record and 4.38 ERA in those two starts.
Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are the only players in the Tiger lineup with more than five career at-bats against Capuano. The Tiger sluggers combine for a .429 average, two home runs and six RBI in those matchups.
The series will conclude Thursday afternoon before the Tigers travel to Toronto for a three-game series that starts on Friday.