Considering how he's fared against the Tampa Bay Rays of late, the right-hander might not have an easy time getting back on track.Winless in three starts, Verlander looks to avoid a third consecutive loss to the Rays on Saturday night.Verlander (8-5, 3.90 ERA) went 4-0 with a 3.82 ERA in five starts before he allowed nine runs, 14 hits with seven walks and nine strikeouts over 10 innings to go 0-1 in the last two. He gave up four runs in five innings of a 7-5 win over Boston on Sunday."That's sports," Verlander said. "There's ups and downs. Nobody's at the peak of their game forever."I'll get back there. I will. It's just, like I said, finding that click -- finding that rhythm."Verlander certainly has the talent to turn things around, but it might not come against the Rays (41-39). He was 6-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his first 10 starts versus Tampa Bay before going 0-2 with a 5.02 ERA in two matchups last season.He yielded four runs and three homers in six innings of a 4-2 loss at Tropicana Field exactly one year to the day of this scheduled start.Verlander also could have a hard time following up teammate Max Scherzer, who pitched seven solid innings to become the first pitcher to go 12-0 since Roger Clemens in 1986 as the Tigers (43-35) snapped a three-game skid with a 6-3 win Friday.Miguel Cabrera went 4 for 4 with two home runs and three RBIs to raise his major league-leading average to .377 and RBI total to 81."I'm pitching well, but the reason I'm 12-0 is because of my offense," Scherzer said. "You got to see firsthand (Friday) the best player in the game hitting two home runs on three pitches and going 4 for 4."Cabrera is batting .490 (25 for 51) with six homers and 12 RBIs during a season-high 13-game hitting streak.He's hit .433 in his last 18 against the Rays, who have totaled three runs and seven hits while dropping two in a row.Breaking out of that rut might not be easy with Evan Longoria likely out after he left Friday with an irritation of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The nagging injury is likely a reason Longoria is 1 for 12 in his last five contests."Of course I'm concerned, but I don't know the level yet until I get more information," manager Joe Maddon said.Rookie Rays outfielder Wil Myers had two hits Friday, including a solo homer.Myers, who made his major league debut June 18, is batting .375 (9 for 24) with all three of his home runs and seven RBIs in the last six games.Fellow rookie Chris Archer (2-3, 4.21) takes the mound looking to build on Sunday's effort when he allowed a run in six innings of a 3-1 victory at Yankee Stadium. He had yielded six runs in 8 2/3 innings while losing his previous two starts."(Pitching coach Jim Hickey) and I talked about some things," Archer told the Rays' official website. "Since my past few starts were not efficient or effective, I was able to apply (the lessons) right away (Sunday)."This will be the right-hander's 10th career start and first appearance against the Tigers.
Justin Verlander has allowed a .304 batting average in at-bats ending in his fastball this season, ninth worst among AL pitchers with at least 15 starts. The Rays are hitting .291 on fastballs this year, tied for third highest in MLB.