Saturday MLB Preview – Tigers at Indians

AL Central divisional rivals get set to play the first game of a day/night doubleheader.

Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians

Detroit had won six of eight games against Cleveland before suffering a series-opening 8-2 loss on Friday night at Progressive Field.  Since the start of the 2009 sesaon, the Tigers have compiled a 20-7 record against the Tribe.  Manager Jim Leyland went to great lengths to try to make sure his club was ready to play after a four-day All-Star break, as he scheduled an earlier 2 p.m. workout yesterday afternoon.  “It was very disappointing,” Leyland said.  “We looked really sluggish in every phase of the game.”  The Tigers have lost seven of their last 10 road games and are 16-26 away from Comerica Park on the season (-940).  Detroit has a great chance in bouncing back in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, posting a 23-14 record in day games (+710).

Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander is 11-5 with a 3.82 ERA in 18 starts this season (+630) and will be coming in with a three-game winning streak.  The right-hander has compiled six victories in his last seven starts, with the club outscoring opponents by a 47-29 margin.  He is 5-3 with a 5.04 ERA in nine road starts, managing to strike out 50 batters and issue 21 walks in 55.1 innings.  Verlander will be making his 22nd career start versus the Indians, tallying a 9-10 mark and 5.39 ERA, including a 1-0 record and 7.36 ERA in two outings this year.  He enters today’s game tied for third among all AL pitchers with 11 wins, while he is ninth with 110 strikeouts.

Cleveland started the second half of the season with an impressive victory and the team hopes to play the spoiler role in the divisional race down the stretch.  “We definitely can’t erase the first half,” Friday night’s winning pitcher Jake Westbrook said.  “But it’s the start of the second half and we wanted to get off on a good note.”  The pitching staff has led the charge over the last 16 games, sporting a combined 3.54 ERA and have now allowed three runs or less in nine of their last 16 games.  The bullpen has been a major component of the entire staff, posting a 2.27 ERA over its last 39.2 innings.  The Tribe has held its own against divisional foes, coming into this weekend with a 15-27 record against the AL Central (+170).

Indians starting pitcher Fausto Carmona is 8-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 18 starts this season (-50), which is a drastic improvement from his 5-12 mark and 6.32 ERA last year.  Cleveland has alternated wins and losses in his last five starts, as he’s given up 16 runs and 32 hits over 30 innings.  The right-hander is 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA in nine home starts, issuing 26 walks and striking out just 30 in 60.2 frames.  In 16 career appearances (13 starts) against the Tigers, he brings a 6-4 record and 3.44 ERA.  He picked up a 3-0 loss in Detroit in his last start against them, giving up three runs (two earned) and nine hits in eight innings.

Bettors will notice the disparity between the daytime performance of these teams, especially with the Indians sporting a 11-23 record in this situation (-880).  In fact, the team is 54-85 during the day the last three years (-2,970).  Detroit is no sure thing as a road favorite of -125 to -150, producing a 2-6 mark in this kind of spot (-610).

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