The Seattle Mariners have had the Detroit Tigers' number of late.
They've also made things difficult on Justin Verlander in his last few visits to the Pacific Northwest.
Hoping to avoid losing a fourth consecutive start at Safeco Field, Verlander looks to help the Tigers snap a five-game losing streak to the Mariners when the teams continue a three-game set Tuesday night.
Seattle (14-17), which recorded a three-game sweep of Detroit (14-14) at Comerica Park from April 24-26, extended its winning streak over the Tigers with Monday's 3-2 walk-off victory. The Mariners failed to get anything going against former teammate Doug Fister and were held scoreless through eight innings before rallying in the ninth.
With Tigers closer Jose Valverde unavailable after pitching each of the previous three days, Octavio Dotel walked the first two batters he faced before ultimately serving up the game-tying double to Jesus Montero. John Jaso went on to drive in pinch-runner Munenori Kawasaki with a sacrifice fly, giving Seattle its third straight win.
"You've got to look for the right pitch, and I think I had the right pitch," Montero said of facing an erratic pitcher.
Detroit, meanwhile, dropped to 5-11 in its last 16 games. Manager Jim Leyland's club has won 14 of 19 when scoring at least three runs but is 0-9 when held to two or fewer.
"Walks will kill you, and they killed us," Leyland said.
While Verlander (2-1, 2.38 ERA) would seemingly give the Tigers their best chance to regroup, last year's AL Cy Young winner and MVP simply hasn't been able to get things going in Seattle. Over the previous four seasons, Verlander has gone 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA at Safeco Field - including a three-start losing streak.
Verlander, though, is 11-0 with a 2.70 ERA over his last 12 starts in opposing ballparks dating to July. He went 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two meetings with the Mariners last season, both of which came at home.
Verlander allowed two runs and six hits over eight innings but didn't factor in the decision of Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Kansas City.
"I really felt like the changeup wasn't that great (Wednesday), the curveball wasn't really sharp, and the fastball control wasn't that great," he told the team's official website. "From pitch No. 1, (I was) just trying to find it and get it going a little bit."
Batting an uncharacteristic .234 at home this season, Ichiro is 16 for 48 (.333) with a homer lifetime against Verlander.
The Mariners give the ball to Kevin Millwood (0-3, 5.34), who was tagged for four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings of Thursday's 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay.
"Some balls found holes, they hit a gap and that was pretty much it," he said. "I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well. I tried to keep the ball down and mix speeds."
The veteran right-hander is 4-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 15 starts against the Tigers, most recently facing them in 2010.
Millwood has allowed a combined 12 runs - 11 earned - in two home starts spanning 9 1-3 innings. Opponents are batting .395 against him at Safeco compared to .250 on the road.
Miguel Cabrera is 13 for 35 (.371) with three homers against Millwood.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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