Monday, April 11, 2016

After postponement, Verlander set to battle Bucs

The wintry Michigan weather that hit Comerica Park over the weekend, from the coldest game in Comerica Park history on Saturday to a snowy rainout on Sunday, is expected to give way to some better baseball weather for the Tigers and Pirates to begin a home-and-home series on Monday.
Sunday's rainout gives Justin Verlander a chance to improve upon his 25-3 career Interleague record. He was pushed back to Monday's opener, where he'll line up against left-hander Jonathon Niese.
Niese pitched better than his line indicated in his Pirates debut, as he struck out seven and walked one over five innings in the Bucs' 6-5, 11-inning win over the Cardinals on Tuesday. Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Marlins in the Tigers' season opener last Tuesday.
Things to know about this game
• Pittsburgh finished 13-7 against American League teams last season, going 8-2 on the road and sweeping the Tigers in a three-game series in Detroit. But the Tigers hold a 13-9 all-time edge at home against the Pirates.
• Niese has faced the Tigers once in his career, a 14-6 loss to Justin Verlander on June 22, 2010. Pitching for the Mets, Niese gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings. He is 5-7 with a 4.83 ERA in 18 career Interleague starts and hasn't won one since April 12, 2013.
• The Tigers haven't seen much of Niese, who spent his entire career in New York before this season. But Justin Upton has hit .346 (9-for-26) with a .414 on-base percentage in 29 plate appearances against Niese, by far the most of any current Tigers hitter.

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