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Game 89: Indians (37-51) at Tigers (44-44)

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Jeremy Sowers (0-4, 7.53) vs. Justin Verlander (5-9, 4.34)

So much for pre-season predictions. This series isn't quite what we thought it would be, eh? Cleveland vs. Detroit, with the AL Central lead on the line, right? Heck, tonight's game isn't what you thought it would be on Saturday. A couple of days ago, it was a pitching heavyweight title fight. (And that is not meant as a whack against C.C. Sabathia.) Now, it's Justin Verlander against a different guy that throws left-handed.

Jeremy Sowers was pounded in his last start for eight runs and six hits by the White Sox. Two of those Chicago hits were a three-run homer by Jim Thome and a grand slam from Nick Swisher. The long ball's been something of a problem for Sowers, as he's given up eight of them in seven games. Each of Sowers' last two starts against Detroit have been almost identical, with him giving up five runs on seven hits in four innings of work. And yes, both of those were losses.

Verlander has allowed two runs or less in his last five starts. Pitch counts have been a problem for him, however, as he's exceeded 100 pitches within six innings in his last three appearances. The Indians haven't been so easy on Verlander lately, as he's lost his last four starts against him, including two this year. Two Tribe hitters who have given Verlander some trouble are Franklin Gutierrez (.455/.455/.909 in 11 at-bats) and Casey Blake (.348/.464/.478 in 28 plate appearances).

No Carlos Guillen in the lineup tonight, as his wife gave birth to their daughter yesterday. Ryan Raburn will be subbing for him at third base.

And if you haven't heard, Dontrelle Willis was diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in his aching right knee and received a cortisone shot earlier today. He was also outfitted with a brace, which he'll wear as he resumes his rehabilitation in Lakeland. (Thanks to explosivo2k2 for posting the news in the comments of the last entry.)

Let's Go Tribe has your SB Nation opposing view for this quickie two-game series.