There was a time when the Detroit Tigers could call on Justin Verlander to play the stopper's role, though those days seem less prevalent now.
The reeling Tigers are hoping for the Verlander of old as they attempt to prevent a sixth consecutive loss in Sunday's series finale with the Texas Rangers.
Detroit (14-15) fell under .500 for the first time this season following Saturday's 10-5 defeat. The Tigers have been outscored 35-13 during the losing streak, during which their pitchers have combined for a 7.07 ERA and they're hitting just .213.
"It can drive you nuts at times, quite frankly," manager Brad Ausmus told MLB's official website. "All types of facets of the game, sometimes three of the four go well, and it's that one other part that costs you a game."
The skid began with Tuesday's 7-3 loss at Cleveland in which Verlander (2-3) was tagged for seven runs in five innings to raise his ERA to 6.49. The 2011 AL MVP has allowed seven home runs in 34 2/3 innings, nearly half his total over 20 starts last season.
"I felt good physically out there, I just did a bad job of pitching," he said.
Verlander likely won't get much of a reprieve from a Rangers offense that produced a season-high five homers Saturday. Three came after the fifth inning as Texas (17-14) rallied from a 5-2 deficit to position itself for its first three-game sweep at Comerica Park since Aug. 3-5, 2004.
"I don't think we've had more than three in any one game, but we know it's in our guys," manager Jeff Banister said. "We know our guys are going to hit home runs for us. But it was sure nice to see them show up in that quantity."
Adrian Beltre had a pair of two-run homers to break out of a 7-for-43 slump and Mitch Moreland snapped a 5-all tie with a two-run shot in the sixth.
Rougned Odor led off the contest with a solo homer, his second of the series. The young second baseman, who went 3 for 5 with three RBIs to back Cole Hamels' seven scoreless innings in Friday's 5-1 win, is hitting .395 over his last eight games.
Odor is 0 for 8 against Verlander, who held the Rangers to two earned runs over 13 innings in splitting two 2015 matchups. He yielded one run in six innings in a 7-4 win at Texas in September.
Martin Perez (1-2, 3.60) hopes for another power surge from his teammates as he tries to halt a road winless streak of over two years. The left-hander is 0-8 with a 4.98 ERA in 12 away starts since tossing a three-hit shutout at Oakland on April 23, 2014, a month prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Perez was in line to end the drought after exiting Tuesday's outing in Toronto with a 1-0 lead after five innings, but the Blue Jays rallied for a 3-1 victory in 10. The 25-year-old earned his lone 2016 win in his previous start by limiting the Yankees to two runs through six innings on April 27.
He hasn't fared well against Detroit, going 0-2 with a 9.53 in three starts and allowing three runs in five innings of a 4-0 loss at Comerica Park on Aug. 20.
Perez will have to contend with a red-hot Nick Castellanos, who's 16 for 32 with 14 RBIs over a nine-game stretch and drove in two runs Saturday. Miguel Cabrera ended 4 for 5 and is hitting .388 over his last 12.
The Tigers are 5-8 at Comerica Park and have lost five straight and seven of eight at home to Texas.