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Preview: Tigers (64-76) at Indians (69-70)
Venue: Progressive Field
Date: September 12, 2015 7:10 PM EDT
Justin Verlander didn’t pitch poorly against the Cleveland Indians last week. Cody Anderson just happened to be better.
Anderson can help the host Indians reach .500 for the first time since the fourth game of the season Saturday night with another win over Verlander and the Detroit Tigers, who insist manager Brad Ausmus’ future is safe for now.
Verlander (3-7, 3.43 ERA) looked strong last Sunday until he gave up three runs in the sixth inning of a 4-0 loss to Cleveland (69-70). Anderson (3-3, 3.72) yielded two hits in seven innings to improve to 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last three starts.
‘He’s out there battling Verlander in a game where neither team could get anything going, and he made outstanding pitches every time he needed one,” manager Terry Francona said.
“He didn’t ever let something bother him to the point where it was going to affect the game. That’s been a trademark of him early on. Even with his youth, man, everybody here knows that he’s a tough kid.”
Anderson was scheduled to oppose Verlander on Friday before the game was postponed by rain. The teams will play a traditional doubleheader Sunday.
After the Indians beat Detroit 7-5 on Thursday for their 11th victory in 15 games, he has the chance to get them back to .500 for the first time since they were 2-2 on April 10.
Though Minnesota and Los Angeles stand in its way, Cleveland is within striking distance of Texas for the second wild-card spot.
“We’re playing good baseball, team baseball, right now,” outfielder Michael Brantley told MLB’s official website. “So, we’ve got to keep it up.”
Brantley had a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth after hitting a solo shot an inning earlier in the series opener.
‘It feels great, but it’s a team win,’ said Brantley, who ranks among the AL leaders with a .319 average. ‘The team gives you those opportunities to get back up to the plate.”
He is batting .339 with those two home runs and nine RBIs in 14 games against the Tigers (64-76) this season.
“I’m glad he’s on our side,” Francona said. “He’s really something to watch.”
Brantley is 3 for his last 21 when facing Verlander, who is 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA in his past six starts against the Indians.
The right-hander has a 1.27 ERA in his last six overall but is 2-3.
“I’m sure it’s frustrating for him, he’d like to get some wins,” Ausmus said of Verlander, who has received an average of 2.89 runs of support this season.
Amid reports that Detroit had already decided to fire Ausmus at the end of the season, general manager Al Avila said Friday that the news had been a surprise to him.
‘These evaluations are on-going and decisions in any of these areas will be made by the end of the season,’ Avila said.
Three of Carlos Santana’s five hits in his last 18 at-bats against Verlander have left the park. Yan Gomes is batting .353 with two doubles against him since the start of last season.
Victor Martinez doubled in three at-bats against Anderson last weekend, and he returned to Detroit’s lineup Thursday after missing three games with a sinus infection.
He’s batting .151 with no home runs in his last 20 games on the road for a Tigers team that’s dropped 15 of 20 and sits last in the AL Central.