Saturday, April 16, 2016

Battle of top righties on tap for Tigers, Astros

Two of the best right-handers in the American League face off on Saturday, when the Tigers and Astros play the middle game of a three-game set in Minute Maid Park.
Justin Verlander gets the ball for Detroit needing a bounceback effort. The Pirates rocked the former Cy Young Award winner for seven runs on 10 hits in Detroit's 7-4 loss last Sunday. Manager Brad Ausmus attributed the struggles to poor movement on Verlander's pitches.
"I thought his slider was flat," Ausmus said.
Verlander might need his 'A' stuff, because Collin McHugh will take the bump for the Astros, four days removed from his own rebound start.
McHugh, following a one-out, five-run 2016 debut in New York, looked like the 20-game winner he was in 2015 during a seven-inning shutout performance against Kansas City in Houston's home opener.
McHugh entered that game against the Royals with a hefty 135.00 ERA and lowered it all the way to 6.14, below Verlander's current 8.71 mark.
Things to know about this game:
• Ausmus, a beloved former Astros catcher, is now 7-8 against his former team as Detroit's manager. Friday's loss broke his .500 mark vs. Houston through his first two seasons at the helm.
• With Verlander on the mound, the Astros will face a right-handed starter for the 12th straight game to open the season.
• Tigers DH Victor Martinez enters Saturday's game just three RBIs shy of 1,000, with 997 in 1,588 career games. He'd be the fifth Venezuelan-born player in MLB history to reach that milestone.

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