American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, August 23rd (All times Eastern)
Toronto Blue Jays (56-67) at Detroit Tigers (66-57), 1:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Toronto - J.A. Happ (2-1, 5.09) Detroit - Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.53)
(Sports Network) - The last time Justin Verlander faced the Toronto Blue Jays he threw a no-hitter. On Thursday, the Detroit Tigers will settle for just a win, as they go after a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Verlander hasn't faced Toronto since tossing his second career no-hitter back on May 7 of last season. However, in six starts against the Blue Jays he is 2-2 with a 5.18 ERA. But, Verlander is 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA in his last three starts against them.
The American League's reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner did not get a decision on Friday against Baltimore, as he struggled with his command, allowing three runs and six hits with four walks in six innings of a 5-3 win.
"I was definitely out of sync," Verlander said. "I wasn't quite right. I was able to keep us in the game."
Still, Verlander is 12-7 on the year with a 2.53 ERA and his 180 strikeouts are second only to teammate Max Scherzer, who has 186.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, will counter with lefty J.A. Happ, who has won his last two starts. Happ beat the Texas Rangers on Friday with a tremendous effort that saw him surrender a run and two hits in six innings. He also struck out eight and ran his record to 2-1, while lowering his ERA to 5.09 since being acquired from Houston.
"I'm feeling much better," he said. "It's nice to get back on a routine. In our minds, it's a little different being in the bullpen a little while. I'm definitely in a better place physically as a starter."
This will be Happ's first-ever start versus the Tigers.
Detroit moved to the brink of a sweep on Wednesday, as Prince Fielder and Jeff Baker each drove in a run to help the Tigers to a 3-2 win.
Anibal Sanchez (2-3) allowed two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and struck out six over 6 2/3 innings to pick up his first win in three starts.
"He was obviously much better, pitched very well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Jose Valverde worked around a two-out single in the ninth to pick up is 25th save of the season. Valverde also became the fifth player in franchise history to record 100 saves.
Edwin Encarnacion and Adieny Hechavarria knocked in a run apiece for the Blue Jays, who have lost seven of their last eight overall and 10 of 12 on the road.
Toronto has scored just 13 runs in its past six games, and more than five just once over its last 10.
Aaron Laffey (3-5) was pegged with the loss after giving up all three runs -- two earned -- on five hits. He struck out two and walked three over six-plus innings en route to his third consecutive loss.
Detroit, which has won three of its five matchups with the Blue Jays this season, hasn't swept the Jays in a three-game set since turning the trick from Aug. 19-21, 2005.
08/23 10:33:09 ET