As Beltre rehabs, Rangers seek 11th straight win

DETROIT — The Texas Rangers haven’t compiled their 10-game winning streak with smoke and mirrors but they have not done it with Adrian Beltre, either.

Beltre hasn’t played an inning this season due to a calf muscle injury but has been slowly working his way back to the point where he could return by the end of May or shortly thereafter.

Manager Jeff Banister has dealt with injuries to other Rangers but has patched and filled with irregulars and minor league call-ups who have done what they’re supposed to do — make contributions.

The Rangers look to keep getting those contributions Saturday when they face the Detroit Tigers and go for an 11th straight win.

Texas opened the series with a 5-3 victory as Joey Gallo and Mike Napoli homered. The win came after the Rangers swept an eight-game homestand and improved its road record to 7-12.

“Given how we’ve played on the road to this point, any win on the road for us is a positive,” Banister said. “We need to gain some traction on the road, play well.

“We made a couple errors (Friday night), gave up a couple outs on the bases. However we got good pitching performances. And the bats showed up. We’ve got to continue that process.”

Detroit got some good post-game news when manager Brad Ausmus revealed that first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has missed three games with a sore left side, will return for Saturday night’s game.

“Ideally I’d like him to have another full day and night,” Ausmus said, “But I’d be shocked if he’s not in the lineup Saturday).”

The Tigers made a post-game player swap, too, optioning right-hander Buck Farmer back to Toledo, where he will start Saturday, and bringing back first baseman/catcher John Hicks.

Ausmus is likely to put either Alex Avila or Hicks at first base and have Cabrera serve as the designated hitter both Saturday and Sunday, to minimize chances of his straining his side again.

Avila would catch if he doesn’t play first because he’s been hitting well this season. Detroit’s regular catcher, James McCann, is hitting home runs but little else.

Right-hander Justin Verlander has a tradition of starting slowly and heating up with the weather and this is another one of those seasons.

Verlander will start Saturday night against Texas with a 3-3 record and 4.47 ERA over his first eight starts. In three starts at home, he is 1-0 with an 0.86 ERA.

Verlander last pitched Sunday in Los Angeles when he allowed four runs and five hits over six innings in a 4-1 loss to the Angels.

Against Texas, Verlander owns a 9-5 record and 2.71 ERA in 17 career starts.

Rangers’ starting right-hander A.J. Griffin (4-0, 3.15 ERA, six starts) will have an extra day of rest prior to facing the Tigers. All of Griffin’s wins are on the road where he has a 1.38 ERA compared to an 8.64 ERA in two home starts.

Griffin last pitched Sunday when he allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings during a no-decision against Oakland.

Griffin hasn’t fared well against Detroit over his career, going 1-2 with an 8.53 ERA in four starts.

Texas is expected to have Nomar Mazara back in its outfield after a one-game rest.