Leyland's expectations for Verlander unchanged

Leyland's expectations for Verlander unchanged

PITTSBURGH -- When a team's offense has sputtered to the extent that Detroit's has recently, it's not uncommon for starting pitchers to talk about taking responsibility and hurling a gem to relieve some pressure from the other players in the lineup.

But Tigers manager Jim Leyland called that "shop talk," saying pitchers don't think along those lines as much as it might seem.

Justin Verlander, Sunday's starter in Pittsburgh, has kept plenty of opponents off the scoreboard before, and he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning at home against the Pirates in May. Even so, Leyland didn't think his ace would grab the ball Sunday assuming he needs to be perfect for Detroit to win.

"I'm a big believer in Verlander," Leyland said. "Today, Justin, he'll be focused on their hitters. He's not going to worry about our offense."

Well, that last bit isn't entirely true. Because Verlander himself will get a rare chance to dig in at the plate Sunday, Leyland said he's going to be a little more concerned about Detroit's run production than normal.

Verlander is 7-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 2012, but he's never had a hit in 30 career plate appearances.