Game Preview: Detroit (80-62) vs. Cleveland (70-69)
By Matt Van Wormer
Last night, the Tigers put the final nail in the Indians’ playoff coffin. Today, they will try to start shoveling dirt on top of the Tribe’s season. After Detroit jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning, the Indians lost all hope of taking the last two games of the series and crawling back into the Central Division race. Now, they take on the ace of the Tiger’s staff hoping to avoid a sweep at the hands of the division leader.
Justin Verlander (21-5, 2.34, 0.91 WHIP) takes the hill to continue his Cy Young campaign and it is really his to lose. Against the Indians this year, Verlander is 2-0, giving up just three runs in 16 innings of work. He has been dominant over the past two months, winning his last nine starts. In his last outing, against the White Sox, he threw 7.1 innings and gave up just one run. None of the Indians have had much success in their careers against Verlander and the way he has been pitching, it doesn’t seem that that will change.
The Indians send their best arm to the mound too as Justin Masterson (11-8, 2.92, 1.21 WHIP) looks to outduel Verlander. Masterson earned the win last Friday after being staked to a 5-0 lead, one of the few times he’s had a good amount of run support all season. In three starts against the Tigers this year, Masterson is 0-1 after throwing 15.1 innings in three starts and giving up 18 hits and nine runs (six earned). Masterson will have to be perfect if the Indians want any shot of slaying the giant that is Justin Verlander.
This series started with a load of optimism that could have seen the Indians close the gap in the Central Division by three games. Now, they’re just trying to survive. The fat lady is warming up and ready to take the stage. The Indians will have to fight like hell to keep her from stepping up to the microphone but Verlander’s fastball may just be too much.
Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images