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News » Tigers-Mariners Preview 2009-04-17

Tigers-Mariners Preview 2009-04-17

Tigers-Mariners Preview 2009-04-17
Coming off a difficult 2008, Justin Verlander is still looking for his first win of 2009.

Considering the right-hander's career success against Seattle, that could happen Friday night in the series opener at Safeco Field.

Verlander makes his third start of the season as the Detroit Tigers (5-4) open their nine-game trip and three-game set against the surprising Mariners.

Verlander (0-1, 9.35 ERA) last pitched Saturday in a 4-3 win over Texas as he allowed two hits and one run in five innings. This was a far improvement from the Tigers' season opener against Toronto on April 6, when he surrendered eight runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings.

"If I throw the ball like that all season, I'll be very successful," Verlander said following Saturday's game.

Verlander, 11-17 with a 4.84 ERA last season, is 6-1 with a 2.91 ERA lifetime against the Mariners. He'll try to improve to 4-1 at Safeco Field.

In his last outing in Seattle, Verlander gave up two runs and eight hits in six innings as Detroit won 8-4 on July 3.

"My goal is, within the next four or five starts, is to get Verlander through seven innings on a consistent basis for the rest of the year," Detroit manager Jim Leyland told the team's official Web site.

Verlander faces a Seattle club looking to bounce back from Thursday's 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. The Mariners (7-3) had their six-game winning streak snapped as they were held to four hits.

Ichiro Suzuki, though, became the all-time hits leader among Japanese-born players with 3,086. His fourth-inning single off Joe Saunders moved him past Isao Harimoto, who held the record since 1981.

"Mr. Harimoto, in 1995 - 14 years ago! - told me, 'The only guy who could break my record is you.' For him to have that vision of the future, for him to say that to a player that has only one year under his belt, I'm amazed by that," Ichiro said through his interpreter.

Prior to joining Seattle in 2001, Ichiro had 1,278 hits in eight seasons with the Orix Blue Wave of the Japanese Pacific League.

He is 3-for-9 with a grand slam after missing the first eight games of the season with a bleeding ulcer. Ichiro has eight hits in 22 career at-bats against Verlander.

The Mariners continue their nine-game homestand without starting catcher Kenji Johjima, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring.

Rob Johnson will likely be catching Friday as Felix Hernandez (1-0, 4.15) makes his first start at Safeco Field in 2009. In his last appearance, the right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits in an 8-5 win over Oakland.

"I think his ankle was bothering him a little bit," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "I don't think it was a huge issue but it was enough to throw his mechanics off."

Hernandez is 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA lifetime against Detroit but has won his last three starts versus the Tigers, including a seven-inning effort on May 31 when he surrendered two hits in a 5-0 victory.

Verlander gave up four runs in seven innings in that game - his only career loss to the Mariners.

Miguel Cabrera's hot start continued in Wednesday's 9-0 win over the Chicago White Sox, as he went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. He's hitting a team-best .486 with four homers and 12 RBIs.

Curtis Granderson has just one hit in his last three games, but is 8-for-15 with a home run lifetime against Hernandez.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 17, 2009

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