DETROIT – Justin Verlander was hardly at his best last time out and a matchup with the Boston Red Sox wouldn’t appear to give him the best chance to bounce back.
The Detroit Tigers ace hasn’t been sharp in his last two games against Boston, but he has been nearly flawless in his past two home starts versus the Red Sox. He’ll try to produce another such outing at Comerica Park in Sunday’s series finale.
After winning four straight starts, Verlander (8-5, 3.72 ERA) suffered a 5-2 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday. The right-hander gave up five runs – on a pair of homers – and walked four while needing 102 pitches to get through five innings.
“There’s ups and downs, peaks and valleys,” he told the team’s website. “Tonight was just one of those nights where two long balls hurt me. Who knows what happens if I’m able to execute those (home run) pitches a little bit better? I’m not saying that I regressed. It’s just one of those games.”
In his attempt to get back on track, Verlander will face one of two teams he’s gone 0-2 or worse against over the past two seasons. He’s also 0-2 against Tampa Bay in that stretch.
He has posted a 6.55 ERA in his back-to-back defeats to Boston but hasn’t given up a run in his last 16 2-3 innings at Comerica against the Red Sox.
In his only home matchup with Boston last season, he gave up two hits and one walk over eight innings while striking out seven in a 3-2 victory April 5.
Verlander would like to get some help from an offense that scored its most runs in 17 games Saturday. Victor Martinez kicked off a 10-3 rout of Boston with a first-inning grand slam, and Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Andy Dirks combined for nine of their team’s 15 hits.
“The four runs given back in the first set the tone for the entire evening,” Boston manager John Farrell said.
Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.38) will try to limit the Tigers on Sunday and help his team improve on a 2-5 road record since June 12. The Red Sox (45-32) have a 5.17 ERA in those games but Doubront will head into this start after throwing eight scoreless innings Tuesday.
The left-hander did not get a decision in Boston’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay but said he picked up some confidence.
“I needed this. I needed this to get more confident, trust more in my pitches,” he told the team’s website. “I’ll go the next game and try to do the same and stay on one page, this page. And stay like that. I’m going to get better results and win games and help the team to win.”
Doubront won his only start against Detroit on May 28, 2012, allowing two solo homers and two other hits in six innings of a 7-4 victory. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts versus Doubront in that game.
Boston’s David Ortiz has three doubles, a home run and a single in his last 12 at-bats against Verlander. Ortiz has homered twice in this series and his 18 at Comerica Park are the most by an opposing player.
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