Blue Jays-Tigers Preview

Strong starting pitching has put the Detroit Tigers on the verge of a weekend sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Now it's time to see whether Justin Verlander can complete the effort.

Verlander makes his fourth start still in search of his first victory Sunday as the Tigers, without Miguel Cabrera for an extended period, seek their second home sweep of the season.

Detroit (41-39) won 8-6 in Friday's opener after Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and ended up being charged with four runs in 7 1-3. The Tigers cruised to an 8-3 victory one day later behind David Price, who yielded one run in seven innings.

Verlander (0-1, 5.09 ERA) is up next after giving up three runs over six-plus innings of a 5-4, 14-inning loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. He did not allow a run after the third.

"I thought he was much better in the last three innings," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He was too fine early, then started attacking hitters."

The right-hander, limited by injuries all season, has been vulnerable against left-handed hitters, who are batting .317 against him. He's gone 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA in nine career starts against the Blue Jays.

Jose Reyes is 5 for 11 off Verlander, Russell Martin is 6 for 15 with a homer and Jose Bautista 5 for 17 with one home run in the matchup. Toronto (42-41) could start switch-hitting Justin Smoak, who is 4 for 12 with two homers against Verlander.

Detroit learned Saturday that Cabrera will be sidelined for at least six weeks with a calf injury suffered Friday. Ausmus plans to rotate players into Cabrera's spot while team president Dave Dombrowski seeks a longer-term solution. Alex Avila went 1 for 3 in his first career start at first base Saturday.

''It's going to be tough without him, for sure,'' Avila said. ''With him being out an extended period of time, we just need to keep it as close as possible to be able to make a run when he gets back.''

The absence of Cabrera makes this an easier assignment for Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada (5-4, 3.58), who has never faced the Tigers. Estrada is suffering through some control issues, issuing four walks and allowing four runs in 2 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 4-3 home defeat to Boston.

The right-hander has walked 11 over his last 23 innings, though he took no-hitters into the eighth in back-to-back starts before Tuesday. He said his changeup wasn't working against the Red Sox.

The Detroit hitter with the most experience against Estrada is J.D. Martinez, who has a double in six at-bats. The burden to produce will increase for Martinez, who has 20 of his team-high 55 RBIs in his last 11 games and has gone 10 for 21 with three homers and nine RBIs in his last five.

Leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler has batted .351 in his last eight games, going 4 for 8 in this series. Yoenis Cespedes is 4 for 9 in the two games.

Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion is 1 for 7 in the series as part of a 3-for-24 slump, and he's 3 for 18 against Verlander. Encarnacion and Bautista have no RBIs in the first two of the set.

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