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Verlander had his worst outing of the year in a 7-6 loss to Cleveland, giving up six hits and four runs _ three earned _ in just five innings. He walked a season-high five and struck out seven.

Still, Verlander (4-3) has the edge over Darvish in ERA, 1.93 to 2.73.

“When I made the decision to come to the big leagues, I knew that I was going to be facing a lot of great pitchers,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “I wasn’t just thinking Verlander but there are many other great pitchers as well.”

And Verlander isn’t just thinking Darvish, or big matchup, especially this early.

“You don’t need to get too amped up, especially for a game in May, and try to do too much,” Verlander said. “That’s the wrong way to approach it.”

Washington sees the same approach from his prized ace-in-the-making.

“Because he’s a competitor, he knows who’s on the other side,” Washington said. “But to stick your chest out and say, `I relish that,’ it’s a game in May. He wants to win it as bad as Verlander wants to win it, but it’s certainly not a championship or World Series matchup. It’s just a ballgame that’s on the schedule.”

But it is at least a little special.


AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.