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DET@HOU: Verlander allows two hits, fans nine Astros

Only one team can win the American League Central. The Indians and Tigers both think they're equipped to do so.

The two teams got their first taste of each other on Friday. Playing at home, Detroit took the first of the three-game series, 10-4. They'll meet again on Saturday, with right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Verlander squaring off at Comerica Park.

The Indians know that Detroit won the division last year -- and the pennant, too, for that matter.

"We know it's a true test of where we stand," Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "We're excited to finally see them this year. We definitely want to go up against them. We know they're the team to beat. We're playing well right now, so we have a bunch of confidence and momentum going in our favor. We're ready to see them."

Friday's defeat interrupted that momentum and snapped Cleveland's four-game winning streak. The Indians have still won 10 of their past 12, though. During that stretch, the offense is averaging 6.67 runs per game. And as of Saturday, Cleveland leads all of baseball with 49 home runs.

But the Tigers lead baseball in a few offensive categories, as well. Entering Saturday's game, no club could match their .287 team batting average, or their .352 on-base percentage.

The first-place Tigers ended a two-game skid by beating Cleveland on Friday. They'll be looking to build a little momentum of their own with Verlander taking his turn in the rotation on Saturday.

Indians: Jimenez going for third straight
• Everybody remembers how filthy Jimenez was during 2010, when the righty won 19 games and posted a 2.88 ERA for the Rockies. That pitcher hasn't been heard from much since, but Jimenez has shown from time to time that he can still deliver.

Take his last two starts, for example. Jimenez picked up the win in both of them, throwing seven shutout innings on April 29 and allowing two earned runs over 5 2/3 innings on May 6. In his most recent outing, Jimenez notched eight strikeouts, a season high.

"It feels good," said Jimenez, who is 2-2 with a 6.37 ERA this season. "It feels good to be able to go out there and compete and give your team a chance to win."

• In his first start since April 14, Michael Bourn went 0-for-4 with a strikeout on Friday. The center fielder had been out with a lacerated right index finger. His hand required five stitches and more than three weeks of recovery time.

Tigers: Verlander as dominant as ever
• No active pitcher in the game is as accomplished -- or as intimidating -- as Verlander. He also is looking for his third win in as many starts. The hard-throwing righty's 1.55 ERA is among the lowest in baseball, and he hasn't given up more than three earned runs in an outing yet this season. Verlander has given up just one home run, too.

In his last appearance, Verlander (4-2) took a no-hitter against Houston into the seventh inning. He struck out nine and walked two, yielding only two hits.

"It's usually a good feeling when you've got Verlander going," Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder said.

• On Friday, Fielder hit his ninth home run of the year. Miguel Cabrera (7) and Andy Dirks (3) went deep as well.

Worth noting
• Last season, the Indians took the season series against the Tigers, 10-8. At Comerica Park, though, the Tigers won five of nine.

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