ARLINGTON, Texas — In a previous matchup this season pitting Texas Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin and Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander, the Tigers delivered a fourth-round knockout.
Griffin lasted only 3 1/3 innings, giving up nine runs on nine hits in a 9-3 loss on May 20.
Verlander, on the other hand, mastered the Rangers, throwing seven innings and allowing three runs on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
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The two meet up again in the middle game of a three-game series on Tuesday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Griffin will make his 11th start of the season, looking to improve on his 5-3 record and 5.40 ERA. The start will be his third since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 2 after recovering from a left intercostal strain. Griffin is 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in his past two starts.
He took the loss in his latest outing, against the New York Mets on Aug. 8. Griffin gave up four runs on four hits, including three home runs, and three walks while striking out three.
Griffin’s outing in May was typical of his career against Detroit. Griffin is 1-3 with a 10.88 ERA in five career starts vs. the Tigers.
“He doesn’t need to go out and try to match a Cole Hamels with strikeouts,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “Just manage the game, keep the game in check and just stay healthy.”
The Texas offense hopes it can be of better help to Griffin this time. A 6-2 victory over Detroit on Monday could be a shot in the arm. Texas manufactured the six runs, getting RBIs from six players.
“I felt like tonight offensively might have been our best approach all year long with everything that we did,” Banister said. “We ran the bases well, got a bunt base hit, some sacrifice bunts … just all around probably the best approach in a game that we’ve had collectively throughout the game.”
Verlander (8-7, 3.97 ERA) makes his 25th start of the season and is coming off a third consecutive victory. He allowed just one hit with three walks and six strikeouts over eight innings in a 10-0 win against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.
The former Cy Young Award winner is 10-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 18 career starts vs. Texas. In six starts in Arlington, Verlander is 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 42 strikeouts.
The man who might be catching his pitches Tuesday, James McCann, has been smoking hot at the plate.
McCann has hit safely in 20 of his past 23 games. Since the All-Star break, when his average was .201, McCann has hit .361 (30-for-83) with six doubles, two home runs, including a grand slam, and 12 RBIs.
Detroit center fielder Mikie Mahtook is swinging a good bat recently also. He enters with two three-hit games in his past three contests.
“This is the hitter I kind of envisioned in 2015,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of McCann. “This is kind of the hitter I thought he’d be.
“I think he was coming to, or at, a crossroads. It had been over a year that we’d kind of been watching the same swing, with really mediocre-at-best results. He just wasn’t hitting enough. Now he is. He looks good. He really does.”