After failing to produce much offense during their last trip to Safeco Field, the Detroit Tigers return this week without one of their best hitters.
The Tigers, however, may not need many runs with Justin Verlander on the mound.Verlander looks to win a career-high fifth straight start when the Tigers, who are missing Miguel Cabrera, open a two-game set against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.Detroit (25-19) begins the final series of a seven-game road trip after losing two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. The Tigers, who began the trip by winning two over Oakland, avoided a sweep with a 6-2 win Sunday as Rick Porcello pitched six innings and Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez homered.Cabrera went 3 for 13 in the series and batted .179 over the last seven games, but he leads the team with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs. He will miss the next two games as his wife is scheduled to give birth to their second child."You worry about losing that offense for a couple days," manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "We'll make the best of it."Cabrera drove in five of Detroit's nine runs when the club dropped two of three at Seattle from April 16-18.While the absence of Cabrera will put more pressure on the rest of the lineup, the Tigers may not have to score much if Verlander (5-2, 3.43 ERA) can continue his dominant pitching.The right-hander gave up one or no earned runs in four of his last five outings. He threw a four-hitter against the Athletics on Wednesday, striking out five in a 5-1 victory."The biggest key for me is controlling my fastball and I was able to do that tonight to both sides of the plate," said Verlander, who has won four consecutive starts seven times. "That's where it starts and ends for me."Verlander has also been receiving plenty of offensive support, getting at least five runs in his last four starts. The Tigers' ace has not been too successful against Seattle lately, however.He has lost his last three starts versus the Mariners (16-28), posting a 4.43 ERA to drop to 6-4 with a 3.41 ERA against them in his career. Verlander gave up three runs in seven innings of a 4-2 defeat April 17 in his most recent matchup with Seattle.However, he'll be facing a Mariners club that totaled two runs in its last two games and has dropped seven of nine.The Mariners opened a series in San Diego with a 15-8 win Friday, but didn't do much else as they lost two of three. They managed five hits in an 8-1 defeat Saturday.Seattle has an AL-worst 153 runs and scored two or fewer in five of its last nine games."Offensively we just can't put anything together," manager Don Wakamatsu said.Doug Fister (3-2, 1.96) is one of several pitchers who has suffered from the lack of hitting.Fister has given up more than two runs in only two of his eight starts, but has one win in his last five outings due to a 3.25 run-support average in that span. The right-hander allowed three runs in eight innings of a 3-2 loss to Toronto on Wednesday.Fister is making his first start against the Tigers, although he has faced outfielder Johnny Damon, who is 3 for 7 against him.