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In final start, Verlander hopes to collect hit

In final start, Verlander hopes to collect hit

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In final start, Verlander hopes to collect hit

MIAMI -- Justin Verlander will get his last throws in to get his game in tune for the playoffs with the start in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Marlins. More important for pride, he'll also get his only swings in.

After somehow missing the Tigers' other series in National League parks, from Washington to Pittsburgh in May and New York in August, Verlander will get his first and only at-bats of the year Sunday. His career 0-for-24 streak is on the line.

It's the longest hitless streak by a Tigers pitcher to start his career in the DH 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," manager Jim Leyland said. "He's actually hit a few balls pretty decent, in defense of him."

There's the fly ball to the warning track at Wrigley Field as a rookie in 2006 that drew a standing ovation. There's the well-hit line drive to right field he remembers off San Francisco's Tim Lincecum at AT&T Park in 2008.

He remembers them all. Still, there's no base hit.

"I want to win the game, but I'm not sure if the guys would rather tease him after the game or if I hope he gets a hit," Leyland said half-jokingly. "I'm not sure which one's more important right now."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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