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MIN@DET: Verlander strikes out eight Twins in win

Weather forecasts aren't always correct, but consider this a near certainty: It's going to get pretty breezy around Minute Maid Park's home plate on Sunday afternoon.

The swinging -- and frequently missing -- Astros face Tigers ace Justin Verlander, the two-time reigning Major League strikeout leader, in the finale of a four-game series.

Verlander has won the Major League strikeout crown in three of the past four years and, while his 41 punchouts this season only rank 17th in the bigs, he's still been just as filthy. He's sporting a 1.83 ERA through his first six starts and is coming off a seven-inning performance against the Twins in which he allowed one run and struck out eight.

Sunday will be a bit different. Yes, the Astros -- with a Major League-leading 310 strikeouts -- have a tendency to swing and miss. But unlike in facing the division-rival Twins, Verlander admitted there's a bit of uncertainty in facing a club he hasn't seen since 2009.

"It's a little different, uncomfortable I guess, not knowing the [opposing hitters]," Verlander said. "I like being able to watch the last few games."

Verlander should have a well-filled notebook. The Astros have struck out 34 times through the series' first three games.

Despite their high strikeout numbers, the Astros aren't worried. In fact, catcher Jason Castro said it's part of their game plan.

"Part of our approach is trying to be what we call 'selectively aggressive,'" Castro said. "So we're trying to find pitches in the zone that we're able to drive and put aggressive swings on them.

"We have some guys with big-time power on this team. So that's part of their game. So you will see guys taking some pretty big hacks. And we have guys that are capable of hitting it out of the ballpark on any given at-bat. So I think that's part of it."

Tigers: Verlander looks to follow suit
The Tigers have an argument for the best pitching staff in baseball, and certainly the top rotation in the American League. Along with Verlander, Max Scherzer is 4-0, Doug Fister is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA and Anibal Sanchez is 3-2 with a 1.82 ERA. Fifth starter Rick Porcello has been up and down, but looked good in his last outing.

"I think we do," Verlander said of being part of the best staff. "I think it's like hitting. Pitching is contagious. We want to keep it going."

• Lefty reliever Drew Smyly has tossed 13 consecutive scoreless innings.

• Tigers starters have recorded a quality start in 19 of their last 21 games, going 11-4 with a 2.93 ERA.

Astros: Humber searching for first win
Sunday starter Philip Humber's 0-6 April record made him the second pitcher since 1900 to lose that many games in April, and his 7.58 ERA isn't anything to write home about, either. But aside from two starts in which he posted a 27.00 ERA, he's been solid, turning in two quality starts and pitching well in his two other outings.

Humber has faced the Tigers five times, including two starts, with his last start against Detroit coming in July 2012, when he allowed six runs in three innings.

• Catcher Carlos Corporan is batting .400 in his last seven games, with two home runs and five RBIs.

Worth noting
• The all-time series between the Astros and Tigers is tied at 9.

• The Astros hit three homers off Verlander during Spring Training in a 7-2 win on March 21 in Lakeland, Fla.

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