Justin Verlander hasn’t let many opponents score off him recently. The New York Mets, meanwhile, have been plating enough runs this week to already set a club record and move in position for a franchise first.
Verlander will try to become the first 11-game winner in the majors and help the Detroit Tigers avoid a sweep Thursday afternoon against the surging Mets, who are looking to score double digits in three straight games for the first time.
With each game, Verlander (10-3, 2.38 ERA) has been compiling numbers that could go a long way toward a possible AL Cy Young Award.
The right-hander has won six consecutive starts with a 0.72 ERA – a stretch that includes four victories at Comerica Park, where he’s allowed only one run in 32 2-3 innings. Verlander also is 8-0 with a 1.77 ERA in 11 starts following a loss April 27.
“It’s always good news when Justin is going to be on the mound,” manager Jim Leyland said.
He struck out a career-high 14 and scattered four hits over eight innings of the Tigers’ 6-0 win over Arizona on Saturday.
“I feel like I’m throwing the ball really well. I feel like my fastball control has been outstanding, for the most part, during this stretch, said Verlander, who has fanned at least 10 in three of his last four starts and is tied for second in the AL with 124 strikeouts.
This will be Verlander’s second career start against the Mets. He’s hoping it will go much better than the first.
The second-shortest start of Verlander’s six-plus year career came June 22, 2010, in Flushing. Verlander, who lasted just two innings and didn’t return after a rain delay, surrendered five runs and five hits with three walks as the Tigers fell 14-6.
Now, the Tigers turn to their ace to cool off the Mets (41-39), who have been putting up eye-popping offensive numbers.
Following a 16-9 victory Wednesday, they’ve scored a club-record 52 runs during a four-game winning streak that’s pushed them two games over .500 for the second time this year.
“It’s been unbelievable. Obviously, right now, this is the best baseball we’ve played,” said Angel Pagan, who had four of New York’s season-high 20 hits.
New York has played 7,886 games since its inaugural season in 1962 without scoring 10 or more runs in three straight.
The Mets will go with Mike Pelfrey (4-6, 4.78), who hasn’t received much run support while faring poorly on the road. The right-hander is 1-6 with a 6.65 ERA in nine starts away from Citi Field, and he’s been backed by one or no runs in seven of those games.
Pitching at Texas on Friday to open this six-game trip, Pelfrey was reached for three runs in the first inning. He gave up just one more in five innings after that, but the Mets lost 8-1.
“I didn’t get off to the start I wanted. My fastball command wasn’t very good,” he said. “I had a good slider, which ended up saving the outing. But I made some mistakes.”
Pelfrey has never pitched against the Tigers (43-38) and has lost three straight interleague road starts, two to the New York Yankees. He’s been tagged for 14 runs and 23 hits in 19 innings over that span.
Miguel Cabrera had two of the Tigers’ season-high five homers Wednesday. Detroit had won 10 in a row when going deep at least five times.
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