The Tigers' final tuneup before their American League Division Series rematch against the A's comes Sunday in Miami, where they send right-hander Justin Verlander to the mound for his last regular-season start.
The Tigers righty hasn't been very Verlander-esque this season, but he can still be dominant. Verlander has posted a 2.67 ERA through five September starts, two of which were scoreless outings, including his last time out against the Twins when he fanned 12 over six innings.
And while building on that outing to get right for the playoffs is important, there's another thing Verlander is looking forward to accomplishing Sunday -- getting his elusive first hit. Verlander's 0-for-24 streak at the plate is the longest hitless stretch by a Tigers pitcher to start his career in the designated hitter era, and the fourth-longest by a Tigers hurler since World War II.
"He's had to take a lot of kidding because he's the one pitcher [in the rotation] who doesn't have a hit," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's actually hit a few balls pretty decent, in defense of him."
Verlander will have to deal with a host of talented young Marlins batters on Sunday, as well as veteran Juan Pierre, who is slated to get his first start since late July. The 36-year-old is a favorite of Marlins fans after being a part of the 2003 World Series championship team and also ranks ninth in hits and third in stolen bases on the club's all-time lists.
Pierre -- a pending free agent -- has only played in 111 games this season, but Marlins manager and former teammate Mike Redmond said the veteran has been wonderful in the clubhouse.
"JP, he's been so consistent all year," Redmond said. "He's that voice in our clubhouse you hear and he's always upbeat and talking about winning, and competing, and playing both sides of the ball. It's been a real pleasure to get a chance to manage him.
"He means so much to me, and he's meant so much to these guys and the organization. It will be a bit of an emotional day tomorrow."
Tigers: Whiff you very much
The Tigers' pitching staff set the all-time single-season Major League strikeout record on Saturday and enter the season finale with 1,415.
The previous record was 1,404, set by the 2003 Cubs.
• Tigers starting pitchers have recorded a quality start in 48 of their last 70 games, going 34-19 with a 3.08 during that stretch.
• Anibal Sanchez's five scoreless innings on Saturday lowered his season ERA to 2.57, edging Oakland's Bartolo Colon (2.65) for the AL ERA crown.
Marlins: Alvarez gets ball in finale
Henderson Alvarez takes the mound for the Marlins in Sunday's season finale looking to close his first year in Miami on a high note. The right-hander has allowed only two home runs in 16 starts this season after giving up 17 in his first 16 starts last year.
Alvarez has made one career start against Detroit, throwing seven innings of one-run ball.
• First baseman Logan Morrison is batting .385 in Interleague Play this season.
• Miami leads the all-time series, 7-4.
• Verlander is 21-2 in his Interleague career.
• Tigers second baseman Omar Infante has a 10-game hitting streak.