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SEA@DET: Verlander fans six over seven solid innings

If the Tigers are to clinch the American League Central, they will have to wait at least two days. The Twins will be the next team trying to delay that celebration.

After failing to secure the division at home this weekend, the Tigers will hit the road on Monday to take on a team that they've battled plenty over the years.

One thing holding the Tigers back over the last few days has been the absence of a few lineup regulars, as third baseman Miguel Cabrera (groin) and shortstop Jose Iglesias (left hand) continue to nurse injuries. Cabrera went 4-for-9 in the Tigers' weekend series against the White Sox, but did not play on Sunday.

The Twins were 1-6 on their seven-game road trip that included stops in Chicago and Oakland.

"We have not played well," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've been sloppy here [in Oakland]. It's been demoralizing sitting in the dugout and watching us keep getting pounded like that."

This homestand also gives Minnesota a chance to secure a milestone for Gardenhire, who entered Sunday's series finale just three wins away from becoming the eighth active manager to reach 1,000 wins and the 60th all-time.

Detroit needed a win against the White Sox on Sunday and an Astros win against the Indians, but neither happened. Their magic number remains at two, and they can clinch the division as soon as Tuesday, but can not do so on Monday since the Indians are off. The Tigers can clinch at least a Wild Card spot and a division tie Monday if they beat the Twins.

"We should be envious of the situation they're in," Gardenhire said of the Tigers and the other contenders Minnesota will see in its remaining games. "Hopefully, guys watching that can see where we need to get to. It should be making them hungry for it. We don't want to see all this, we want to play good baseball."

Monday will give Tigers ace Justin Verlander another chance to revert to that ace-like form that he's been searching to find consistently this year. He'll take on fellow righty Mike Pelfrey in the series opener at Target Field.

Verlander struggled again with command early in his last start, but only gave up three runs in seven innings. He walked three, and the Tigers have lost in six of his last seven starts.

"I think the stuff has been getting better just about every time out," Verlander said. "How I'm going to be in the postseason, we'll see. You never want to say anything is clinched or anything until it is."

Tigers: Prince on power surge
• Prince Fielder hit a long home run on Sunday afternoon and is hitting .346 with nine doubles, eight home runs and 25 RBIs over his last 40 games dating back to Aug. 12.

• The Tigers are 45-28 this year against the AL Central.

Twins: Bullpen getting work
• The Twins enter Monday's series opener with a Major League-leading 552 innings of relief work this year.

That total is the second-highest season total in franchise history. Only last year's club logged more innings of relief (558 2/3).

• The Twins have tied a club record (set five other times, most recently in both 2006 and 2007) by being shut out 14 times this year.

Worth noting
• The Tigers are 9-7 against the Twins this season.

• Minnesota closer Glen Perkins (54) needs one save to pass Mike Marshall for sole possession of eighth place on the club's all-time list.

Series probables
Monday: RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-13, 5.34 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.66 ERA)

Tuesday: LHP Scott Diamond (6-11, 5.54 ERA) vs. RHP Doug Fister (13-9, 3.71 ERA)

Wednesday: RHP Kevin Correia (9-12, 4.29 ERA) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (20-3, 3.00 ERA) Comments