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Indians Vs. Tigers: Justin Verlander Stands Between Cleveland And A Sweep

It's not supposed to be easy, is it?

The Cleveland Indians will go for a sweep Thursday over the Detroit Tigers. And while the Indians have looked like the better team both in this series (they've held Detroit to just five runs through two games) and this season (they hold a 5.0-game lead over Detroit in the standings), the Tigers do have an ace up their sleeve: Justin Verlander, who will take the hill Thursday.

Verlander, 5-1 with a 2.14 ERA, has returned to MVP form in his last two starts. Over 16.0 innings, he has 20 strikeouts and has allowed just three hits. Oh, and Detroit has won each game.

The Tribe will counter with 1-3 Justin Masterson. To his credit, Masterson has had a few Verlander-esque performances on the season, like when he pitched 8.0 one-run innings on April 5, or the 8.1-inning, two-run outing on April 27. Then again, he wouldn't have a 5.04 ERA on the season if performances like that were the norm.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 12:05 Eastern.

For more on the Cleveland Indians, check out Let's Go Tribe. You can also head over to SB Nation's main MLB hub at Baseball Nation, or watch SB Nation's YouTube channel:

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.