Less than two weeks ago, fresh off the emotional high of winning three straight games against the White Sox to claim a share of first place in the American League Central, the Tigers welcomed the Indians, who applied the brakes.
This time the Tigers enter the series coming off two wins, though they didn't get the chance to make it three when Thursday's series finale against the White Sox was postponed until 2:10 p.m. ET on Monday due to rain. Therefore they remain one game back in the division.
That's the bad news for Detroit.
The good news is that it will have Justin Verlander taking the mound. And after his last debacle at Progressive Field, on July 26 -- the Tribe pegged him for four runs in the seventh inning to come from behind and steal a victory -- he'll be motivated to redeem himself.
"It was a battle for me all night," Verlander said after that game. "I didn't really feel great. I never really got in a groove and got comfortable out there."
The Indians counter with Corey Kluber. The Tribe, who entered last week's set having not won a series since taking two of three from the Tigers between July 24-26, got off to a quick start, with Kluber allowing two runs in six innings.
The result went the Tribe's way, and Kluber earned his first Major League victory. But in that game the 26-year-old dueled Anibal Sanchez. Facing the reigning AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner is a different animal.
But the Indians will not lack confidence. Verlander is 6-10 with a 5.83 ERA in 17 starts at Progressive Field. Combine that with the Tribe's 9-6 record vs. the Tigers this season, and there's some good news for Cleveland, too.
"It's crazy this year. For some reason, some way, we seem to play a little bit better against Detroit," said Justin Masterson when the clubs last faced each other.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland noticed it as well.
"They've been a little mystery for us all year," Leyland said.
Tigers: Road not kind to Verlander
Verlander's stats are surprisingly pedestrian outside Comerica Park, as he is 6-6 with a 4.02 ERA.
Entering Thursday's game, outfielder Avisail Garcia had not played left field in 521 pro games (10 in the Majors, 511 in the Minors). But with Leyland wanting to get Brennan Boesch in the lineup, Garcia was set to make his debut in the new position on Thursday night.
The rain washed away that opportunity but it shows that the Tigers' skipper, who's been cautious about using the 21-year-old in positions where he's not comfortable, could very well put the rookie in left field down the stretch if necessary.
One player who won't be seen roaming left field any time soon is Ryan Raburn. Although placing a player on the disabled list isn't common in September, the outfielder/second baseman was shelved prior to Thursday's game with a strained right quad.
Indians: Tribe back in a slump
After taking two of three from Detroit from Sept. 2-4, the Tribe have regressed. They are 2-5 in their last seven games, though they did stage a ninth-inning rally to beat the Rangers, 3-2, on Thursday night.
Manager Manny Acta said earlier in September that left-hander David Huff would mostly work out of the bullpen unless an opportunity for a spot start became available. Apparently it has, as Acta announced that Huff would start vs. Minnesota on Tuesday.
Huff, who will replace Jeanmar Gomez in the rotation, went 7-6 with a 4.97 ERA in 24 games with Triple-A Columbus this season.
It remains unclear whether Asdrubal Cabrera's sprained right wrist will heal in time for him to play the final two-plus weeks of the season. But the shortstop certainly hopes to make it back.
"I want to finish strong. ... I want to be 100 percent to finish the season," Cabrera said on Thursday.
The Indians appear to have the Tigers' number this season, and they are the only team in the division able to make that claim. The Tigers are a combined 26-14 vs. the White Sox (12-5), Royals (7-4) and Twins (7-5), but they are 6-9 against the Tribe.
"You can't pick and choose who you play well against," Acta said. "We want to play well against everybody. It happened that we have gotten good pitching when we played them and have played well."