Game 137 Preview: Indians at Tigers

Leon Halip

The Tigers have dominated the Tribe with 15 victories in 18 meetings this season. Cleveland will send Danny Salazar to the mound to make their last stand against Detroit in the campaign's final meeting between the two division foes.

Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

Time/Place: 1:08 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation blog: Let's go Tribe

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV (Free Game of the Day), Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Danny Salazar vs. RHP Justin Verlander

Pitcher GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP GB% fWAR
Salazar 5 27 10.67 3.00 1.67 3.67 4.07 35.9 0.3
Verlander 28 178.2 8.51 3.27 0.86 3.73 3.54 39.8 3.7

Danny Salazar was close to leaving his mark on the Detroit Tigers when he last matched up with them during the Tigers 4-game sweep in early August. Salazar was dominating into the 8th inning that night mowing down 10 Tigers including Miguel Cabrera the first three times they met. Salazar's fastball was a comet blowing by baffled Tigers time and again. Austin Jackson's solo shot managed to tie the game in the top of the 6th but Nick Swisher had a rare big moment this season and put the Tribe back ahead in the 7th with a run scoring double.

This set up the top of the 8th. Torii Hunter's two-out single brought Cabrera back up for a 4th time. Salazar was still breathing fire from the mound deep into the 8th and he set to work on a 4th strikeout of the Tigers superstar. But it wasn't to be...Cabrera, as he just seems to do, rose to the occasion and swatted an awe inspiring blast deep into the Ohio night to put the Tigers ahead. The game would eventually go 14 innings and the Tigers would pull out a 6-5 victory. Lost somewhat in the afterglow of such a big win for Detroit was the electric stuff flashed by Salazar that night. He is certainly going to be a part of Cleveland's rotation moving forward. He does seem to be on an innings-limit at this time and hasn't worked beyond the 6th inning in any start since his memorable matchup with the Tigers.

Justin Verlander...what more can be said? His season has been dissected every which way possible by analysts and fans to numerous to recount here. I'm not a pitching coach. I can't tell you if his mechanics are way out of whack. We all see the numbers. His K-rate is the lowest since 2008. His BB-rate is the highest since '08. His fastball velocity, according to Fangraphs, is the lowest of his career and close to the '08 levels. 2008 is the recurring theme. Verlander referenced that campaign himself the other day. He rose from that season and put himself back on the path to stardom...that season was a detour, not a dead end road. Verlander keeps taking the ball every fifth day, so I assume he is healthy. If so, there seems to be no reason that he can't find rhythm or the release point he seeks to be the Ace again. Will it happen in 2013 or will he wait until next season? That's the looming question and Jim Leyland has a crucial decision to make should the Tigers make the post-season. Is Justin Verlander taking the ball in Game 1? Sunday's game with Cleveland could provide a piece of the puzzle in determining who gets that assignment.

Outlook

Late on Saturday night after the Tigers 10-5 victory over the Tribe, it was announced that Nick Castellanos would be added to the roster in time for Sunday's game (along with Evan Reed and Dan Worth). Castellanos could make his Tigers debut on Sunday, a much anticipated moment. Any time an organization's top prospect makes the scene it's a notable event. As the Tigers make a final push to the playoffs, it will be all the more interesting to see if Castellanos can provide any kind of spark and force the Tigers to consider taking him into post-season play.

Miguel Cabrera sat out on Saturday night and in the 8th inning Austin Jackson crashed into the center-field fence injuring his shoulder even though he did stay in the game. It would be no surprise if both Tigers stars sit out Sunday and let the rest of the roster including the new additions try to polish off the sweep of the Cleveland club.

Prediction

Yes...Verlander has struggled more often than not. Yes...the Tigers have some key guys banged up. Yes...Salazar was really impressive the last time he hooked up with Detroit. But, come on man, the Tigers have been rolling over the Tribe like the Alabama Crimson Tide roll over Northwestern Nowhere Tech. The Tigers are 15-3 against Cleveland and they've both busted them up in some blowout games and broke the Tribe's hearts in others with late heroics. I'm not going against that!

Tigers 6- Tribe 4, 10-innings, Alex Avila walk-off homer

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