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Open Thread - Game 53: Tigers (30-22) at Indians (32-19)

Justin Verlander (5-1, 2.71) vs. C.C. Sabathia (7-1, 3.54), 7:05 p.m. EST

Pardon me for getting a bit sidetracked with typing 700+ words about Alex Rodriguez and the ethics of interfering with an opposing player trying to catch the ball. But I think I needed to distract myself from a harsh reality: The starting left side of the infield for your Detroit Tigers this evening is Neifi Perez at shortstop and Omar Infante at third base.

That's a hell of a way to begin what could be a pivotal four-game series with the AL Central-leading Indians. (Not to mention last night's meltdown in Tampa Bay that I'm still trying to forget.) It might be enough to compel some Detroit fans to keep the TV tuned to Game 5 of Pistons-Cavaliers on TNT. (And tonight would be an excellent time for the Pistons to remind everyone they're the better team in that series.) But with the Tigers 2 1/2 games out of first place in the division, this series opener is obviously worth keeping an eye on.

Verlander stayed with Sabathia for six tough innings last Saturday, until he was taken out for Jason Grilli. And if you missed the game, you can probably figure out how things went from there. Had Verlander not walked four batters, he might not have thrown 105 pitches and been pulled from the game. I know it's been a familiar tune this week, but the Tigers likely stand a better chance of winning if Verlander can stay in the game longer. Work that clicker finger, baby.

Your SB Nation opposing view for this series is brought to you by Let's Go Tribe.

Short Hops:

▪▪ At his blog, Curtis Granderson is waving the flag for his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Chicago, as the Flames get ready for their NCAA Tournament game against Long Beach State.

(And for metro Detroit fans, Michigan will play Memphis in their regional at 3 p.m. EST tomorrow. The game will be televised on Comcast Local. Here's the entire NCAA bracket, if you're interested.)

▪▪ The Let's Go Tribe community is a bit worried about Travis Hafner.

▪▪ Jayson Stark wonders if the AL playoff field has already been determined.

▪▪ The Indians thought Troy Percival looked "fine" in his throwing session for potential free agent suitors.

▪▪ In that same blog post, Paul Hoynes has bad news on Adam Miller: The Indians' #1 pitching prospect will be out three to four weeks, due to a finger injury.