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Game 63 Preview: Tigers at Cubs

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June 8, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Travis Wood (30) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
June 8, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Travis Wood (30) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Detroit Tigers at Chicago Cubs

Time/Place: 2:00 p.m., Wrigley Field

SB Nation Blog: Bleed Cubbie Blue

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Justin Verlander (5-4, 2.69 ERA) vs. Travis Wood (0-2, 4.71 ERA)

Wood has slightly more experience (40 career starts) than some of the young left-handed arms that have shut down the Tigers offense this season, but not much. He didn't start his first game of 2012 until May 6th and didn't become a regular member of the Cubs rotation until May 22nd. He has been up and down, but has a serious problem with giving up home runs. He has allowed seven dingers this season in just 5 starts, including four against the normally impotent San Diego Padres. This has resulted in a HR/FB ratio of 29.2%. Aren't small sample sizes fun?

Verlander's numbers look fairly pedestrian after a few rough starts, though his last outing showed some promise. The Cubs aren't going to be able to drive up his pitch count as well as the Cincinnati Reds did. JV should be able to work deeper into the game and give this ragged bullpen some much needed R&R.

As for his pregame meal? MSUDersh has words of caution:

...there is a TB like half a block west of Wrigley on Addison. The team must NOT permit Verlander to get food from there tomorrow. It has repeatedly been cited for health code violations, including roaches & rats in the restaurant, and there was a shooting at it last year.

Hey, as long as there are no tomatoes in that order, he should be fine.

Outlook

Full disclosure: I'm writing this section before Wednesday evening's game. Regardless of the outcome, Thursday's game is as close to "must win" as I can muster to type at this point in the season, mostly for the sanity of the fanbase. Personally, I can't picture myself typing "Justin Verlander (5-5, X.XX ERA)" in a game preview 5 days from now. 6-4 with an ERA around 2.50 sounds much better.

Prediction

Verlander and Miguel Cabrera duke it out for BYB Player of the Game honors with a couple of big days.