MIKE COOK, Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander isn’t thrilled that he got Sunday off, but he had no choice.
Verlander was scheduled to start for the Tigers against Minnesota before the game was postponed because of heavy rain. No makeup date has been announced.
Verlander (3-1) has won nine straight decisions against the Twins. He’s also 4-0 with a 1.89 ERA in six starts at Target Field.
The dominating right-hander is now scheduled to pitch Tuesday’s night series opener in Chicago against the White Sox after a week off.
“I just feel like five days is enough time where every time I go out there it’s boom, boom, boom. It’s like muscle memory, it’s getting in there,” Verlander said. “We’ve had so many off-days, we’ve had a plethora of six-day rests and I absolutely don’t want it.”
Neither does Detroit manager Brad Ausmus.
“The off-days and the rain days has killed our rotation,” Ausmus said. The Tigers have had three postponed games and three off-days in the season’s first month.
“No one can get any type of rhythm,” he added. “Guys are going on five days’ rest, four days’ rest, six days’ rest. … Rhythm gets you in a comfort zone mentally.”
On the plus side, Detroit’s bullpen got a much-needed rest. Three relievers logged a combined 5 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 5-3 defeat after starter Anibal Sanchez left in the third inning with a blister on his right middle finger. Sanchez was put on the 15-day disabled list.
The Tigers’ bullpen has a collective 5.65 ERA, having allowed 41 earned runs in 65 1-3 innings.
“It’s good in a sense that in the last couple days our bullpen has been taxed and now everyone gets two days off. … We have enough guys that could use rest,” Ausmus said, citing Phil Coke, Jose Ortega and Al Alburquerque as examples.
Closer Joe Nathan, who pitched Friday, said the rest is nice, but the relievers probably don’t need two days off.
“Tomorrow would have been plenty of time to recover for Tuesday. Then we have another off day on Thursday,” he said. “We’d have rather gotten this in because we still got to make this thing up, meaning a doubleheader or playing on a day off.”
Scheduled Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson (3-1) has been pushed back to Tuesday, when the Twins are to open a three-game set against the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers. That game could be in doubt, however, because the forecast calls for rain in the Twin Cities through Tuesday.
Gibson will be looking to rebound after allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits in three innings Tuesday in Tampa Bay. In his first three starts, Gibson allowed just two earned runs in 19 1-3 innings for an 0.93 ERA.
“If your starter is going deep, everything seems to work out with your pen, you can do your match ups and everything. We need starters to step up,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Phil Hughes did just that Saturday, throwing a much-needed seven strong innings. It was just the team’s second quality start in nine games — both by Hughes. Minnesota starters have a cumulative 6.04 ERA and have averaged less than six innings per start.
“We were very limited yesterday,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve thrown a lot of innings out of our pen the last week, we were trying to get through that game and we desperately needed Hughes to do what he did.”
NOTES: This is the 10th rainout in Target Field history and second this season. … Minnesota 3B Trevor Plouffe, who left Saturday’s game with a bruised left triceps after being hit by a pitch, was scheduled to start. … Detroit C Alex Avila was going to return to the Tigers’ lineup. He hurt his shin sliding into home plate on Friday. … Both teams are off Monday. … Minnesota is scheduled to face the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke (4-0, 2.45) on Tuesday. … Chicago’s Jose Quintana (1-2, 3.90) is scheduled to start against Detroit on Tuesday.
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)