The Detroit Tigers (20-23) and Cleveland Indians (25-18) will close out an American League Central series on Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 12:05 ET
Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians
Detroit looks to avoid a sweep in this divisional series, which includes a 4-2 setback on Wednesday. The Tigers have gone “under” the total in six consecutive games. “We’re a much better team than this,” commented Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “We just need to go out and play like it.” Third baseman Miguel Cabrera is one of those players that can help the offense break out, hitting .341 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI in 72 games against the Indians. Detroit is 12-0 as a road favorite of -150 to -175 the last two-plus seasons.
Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.14 ERA) will look to win his fourth consecutive start, coming off a 6-0 home shutout of the Pittsburgh Pirates last time out, giving up just a single run and collecting 12 strikeouts. The right-hander has garnered a perfect 3-0 record and 3.21 ERA in four road outings, with opponents hitting just .217 against him. In 27 career games versus the Indians, Verlander has compiled a 13-11 record and 4.82 ERA, but is just 6-8 with a 6.10 ERA in 15 outings at this ball park.
Cleveland has won seven of its last nine games and sit atop the divisional standings, but don’t expect to see manager Manny Acta to proclaim his club as the favorites. “The title has to go through Detroit,” commented Acta after Wednesday’s victory. The Indians are focused on trying to capture their first series sweep against the Tigers since April 29-May 1, 2011. The club has been on quite a role, winning nine of its last 13 series. Cleveland is 0-6 at home when the total is 7 or less the past two-plus seasons.
Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson (1-3, 5.04 ERA) has watched the club drop his last three outings, with the offense supplying just six runs of support over that span. The right-hander is 0-1 with a 2.62 ERA in five home starts, surrendering just two home runs in 34.1 innings. In 10 career games (seven starts) versus the Tigers, Masterson has registered a dismal 0-4 record and 5.14 ERA, including an 0-2 mark and 4.22 ERA in four outings a year ago.
Bettors will likely back the Tigers due to their 42-13 record in Verlander’s last 55 starts as a favorite of -151 to -200, while the Indians are 2-5 in Masterson’s last seven outings as an underdog.