Rangers at Tigers
The Texas Rangers are the hottest team in baseball as they extended their winning streak to 10 games with a triumph in the series opener. The Rangers will try to make it 11 straight and keep the pressure on Houston in the American League West when they visit the Detroit Tigers on Saturday for the middle contest of their set.
Texas got off to a slow start and was sitting at 13-20 after a 5-1 loos at San Diego on May 8, but an average of 6.4 runs over the last 10 contests and some solid work from the pitching staff got the team back over .500 and pointed in the right direction in the standings as the team tries to keep sight of the MLB-best Astros. The Rangers are not getting much contact from Mike Napoli (.182 batting average) or Joey Gallo (.188), but both can make the ball travel far when they do connect as each homered in Friday's triumph. Trying to keep the ball away from the sweet spots of the bats of Napoli and Gallo on Saturday will be Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who goes up against A.J. Griffin. Detroit is 5-7 in its last 12 contests and dropped to 2-2 on its six-game homestand.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, FOX
PITCHING MATCHUP: Rangers RH A.J. Griffin (4-0, 3.15 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (3-3, 4.47)
Griffin had a string of four straight wins come to an end with a no-decision against Oakland on Sunday, when he was reached for four runs and seven hits in five innings. The Californian tossed a four-hit shutout at San Diego in his previous outing and has not allowed a run in two of his last four turns. Griffin has not had as much success against Detroit as he is 1-2 with an 8.53 ERA and 30 hits allowed in 19 innings.
Verlander had a string of three straight quality starts come to an end Sunday, when he was tagged for four runs on five hits and five walks in six innings by the Angels in Los Angeles. The former Cy Young Award winner and MVP is struggling a bit with his control, issuing 20 walks in his last five starts. Verlander is 9-5 with a 2.71 ERA in 17 career starts against Texas.
1. Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera (oblique) sat out the last three games and remains day-to-day.
2. Texas RF Nomar Mazara, who is 9-for-19 over his last five contests, was held out of the lineup in the opener but is expected to play Saturday.
3. Detroit RF J.D. Martinez has hit safely in six of seven games since making his season debut on May 12 and has five home runs.