Tigers try to maintain hold on 1st place, open set with Tribe

9:52 AM, Sep 3, 2012   |    comments
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The Detroit Tigers hope to stay atop the American League Central standings on Monday when they open a three-game series against the hapless Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park.

Detroit moved into a first-place tie in the division with the Chicago White Sox on Sunday when the Tigers completed a three-game sweep of their division rivals, as Justin Verlander allowed one run over eight innings and Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young both homered in the 4-2 triumph.

Verlander (13-7) gave up a leadoff home run, but allowed just three hits the rest of the way. The AL's reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner struck out 11, issued just two walks, and improved to 12-1 in his last 13 starts against Chicago.

"We just beat a very good team, a team that has been in first place for the most part of the year," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "It's gonna be hard to take that away from them. They're good and they have answered every bell so far, so we just have to keep playing baseball."

The Tigers are in first place for the first time since July 25. They haven't been alone at the top since July 23.

Getting the call for the Tigers on Monday will be righty Anibal Sanchez, who is finally starting to settle in. Sanchez is still just 2-4 with a 5.29 ERA in six starts for the Tigers since being acquired from Miami, but has allowed just two earned runs in his last two starts.

Sanchez, who is 1-1 in two starts versus the Indians, absorbed the loss on Wednesday in Kansas City, but pitched well, surrendering a run and seven hits in seven innings.

"I thought he mixed well," Leyland said. "I thought his velocity was good. He picked up a little extra when he needed it. As the game went on, he got the ball down better. They hit a couple balls hard early, but then he settled in. He really showed me something his last inning out there. That was quite a few pitches for him. ... And he was up to the challenge."

Cleveland, meanwhile, will counter with rookie Corey Kluber, who is still searching for his first major league win. Kluber's latest loss came to Oakland on Wednesday when he allowed four runs (3 earned) and eight hits in six innings. He also fanned seven without walking a batter, but still fell to 0-3 to go along with a 5.16 ERA.

"I'm very encouraged by the way he threw the ball," Indians manager Manny Acta said after that game.

Acta could be enjoying his final days as a manager in Cleveland, as his job security has come into question of late, thanks in part to the team's 16th loss in 18 games on Sunday, an 8-3 setback to the Texas Rangers.

The Indians begin a 10-game road trip today, Their last two trips resulted in them going, 1-8 and 0-9.

"We're hoping we can have a better record than we had the last two times we went on the road," Acta said.

Cleveland, though, is 7-5 against the Tigers this season.

 

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