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Game 16: Tigers (5-10) at Indians (5-10)

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Justin Verlander (0-2, 6.52) vs. Fausto Carmona (1-1, 2.20)

It's a battle for fourth place in the AL Central tonight in Cleveland! Actually, it's much more exciting than just a tiebreaker, with the Detroit Tigers suddenly rising up the standings like a phoenix from the ashes.

After pounding the struggling C.C. Sabathia last night, the batting order that has become a buzzsaw tries to prolong Fausto Carmona's winless streak. Last time out against Oakland, Carmona walked eight batters in just 3 1/3 innings. (Even Dontrelle Willis is shaking his head at that.) That's two more walks than he's allowed in 37 2/3 innings against the Tigers over eight appearances. Carmona's record against Detroit is 3-2, with a 3.35 ERA and 34 strikeouts.

If you look at the numbers, it doesn't look like Justin Verlander pitched very well in his last start, either. But is that really fair, considering he'd only given up two hits in seven innings against the White Sox until he just didn't have anything left for the eighth? Regardless, Verlander hasn't exactly performed as an ace in his first three starts, and he might be losing something off his fastball. (Hat tip to The Detroit Tigers Weblog.) Jacobs Progressive Field hasn't been a safe place for him either, with a 1-4 record and 8.89 ERA on the Tribe's home turf.

Once again, I'm on the road, trekking along on the second stage of my trip down south to Charleston, SC, so the Game Thread is going up early. The BYB Brigade (growing in both numbers and passion by the day) has made it quite clear that the Tigers play better when I'm nowhere to be seen, so I'll do my best to maintain a voluntary exile during the game. Best to abide by the veteran wisdom of Crash Davis: Never #@$% with a winning streak.

Housekeeping:

A big thanks to Mike McClary for helping out with Game Recaps while I'm traveling down south for my sister's wedding. (I love the format he created, and wish I'd have come up with it myself.) Please check out his work at The Daily Fungo and listen to him on The Detroit Tigers Podcast, if you get a chance.