Zoomin' In Motown

Despite stumbling through the last five weeks, the Detroit Tigers have managed to stay near the top of the AL Central.

They'll try continue their push for the division lead and win their first series in more than a month when they conclude their four-game home set with the New York Yankees on Monday.

Detroit (70-60) held a two-game lead in the Central on July 19, but has lost 24 of 37 games since then. Despite the slide, the Tigers are only 2 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland.

Detroit beat the Yankees 5-4 on Sunday to take two of the first three in the series. The Tigers, who dropped three of four at New York from Aug. 16-19, have not won a series since sweeping a three-game set against Minnesota from July 17-19.

"We knew how much we needed this one,'' said Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya, who pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings. "A big game against the Yankees means a lot of emotion.''

Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Detroit -110 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 10.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit -110 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

New York (72-58) has lost four of six on its seven-game road trip after winning 15 of its previous 20 games.

Sunday's defeat dropped the Yankees 7 1/2 games behind AL East-leading Boston, and they're in danger of losing consecutive series for the first time since dropping four in a row from June 19-July 1.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, who injured his right knee during the previous series against Los Angeles, did not play Sunday. Yankees manager Joe Torre said he didn't believe it was serious, but added he wasn't sure if Jeter, who had played in all but two of New York's 129 games, would miss more than the Sunday's contest.

The Yankees hope Mike Mussina (8-9, 5.22 ERA) can shake off a couple of terrible outings when he takes the ball in the series finale. The right-hander has pitched just 6 2-3 combined innings and been pounded for 13 earned runs in his last two starts - both losses - after posting a 2.84 ERA in winning his previous four games.

Mussina gave up seven runs and seven hits in a season-low 1 2-3 innings of an 18-9 loss to the Angels on Tuesday.

"It was just bad from the start, and I don't know why because I felt good warming up,'' he said. "That goes in the top five worst games of my career right there. It was just awful. If I could explain it, I would know how to fix it. And right now I don't.''

Before being knocked around by Los Angeles, Mussina gave up seven runs and nine hits in five innings of an 8-5 defeat to the Tigers on Aug. 16. The 17-year veteran has not lost three straight starts since July 2-Aug. 18, 2004.

Mussina is 17-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 30 starts against the Tigers.

Detroit counters with Justin Verlander (13-5, 3.94), who's also looking to bounce back from an awful outing. The right-hander gave up a season high-tying seven runs and season-worst 10 hits in just four innings of an 11-8 loss to the Indians on Wednesday.

Verlander also allowed seven runs in an 11-5 defeat to Cleveland on May 31, but responded by posting a 1.24 ERA in winning his next four starts. He has not lost back-to-back starts all season.

In his only start against New York this year, Verlander gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-5 victory Aug. 16 to beat Mussina. In two career starts against the Yankees, Verlander is 1-0 with a 7.84 ERA.

The Tigers had only four hits Sunday, but three were homers. Curtis Granderson led off the first inning with an inside-the-park home run, while Marcus Thames hit his 15th homer and Carlos Guillen his 19th.

Guillen also had a home run in Friday's 9-6, 11-inning win over the Yankees, and has four in his last six games.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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