Rain in Detroit on Friday was the only thing preventing the
Texas Rangers from slugging their way to another victory. Tigers
pitchers Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander will try to be the next
to keep that red-hot club at bay.
Porcello and Verlander will look to build on their first
victories of the season during Saturday’s day-night doubleheader
against the Rangers, winners of seven in a row.
Before Friday night’s game at Comerica Park was washed out,
Texas (11-2) was among the major league leaders with a .306 batting
average, .521 slugging percentage, 23 homers and 79 runs. The
Rangers have scored 53 of those runs during this win streak while
batting .345 with 13 homers.
They produced 19 hits during a 10-3 win in Thursday’s series
opener and rematch of last year’s AL championship series, which
Texas won in six games.
“(The rain is) something you can’t control,” said Texas’ Mike
Napoli, who has five homers in his last four games. “We’ll go do
the split doubleheader tomorrow and start with Game 1 and go from
Texas also boasts one of the AL’s best ERAs at 2.38, and its
starters are 9-0 for the first time in team history.
“They’re such a tremendously solid team in all areas – starting
pitching, defense, bullpen, offense,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland
said. “They have a lot of nice weapons, they have a lot of
versatility. They’re very good – and we are, too.”
Matt Harrison (2-0, 0.64 ERA) will try to keep the Rangers’ run
going with another impressive outing in the first game.
The left-hander gave up one run over eight innings of a 4-1
victory in Minnesota on April 13 but hasn’t fared as well against
the Tigers lately. He’s 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his last three
matchups, including Game 4 of the ALCS, and 0-3 with a 6.23 ERA in
four starts at Comerica.
Porcello (1-0, 1.84), who will oppose Harrison, allowed one run
over six innings during his most recent regular-season matchup
against the Rangers, an 8-1 road victory June 7. He gave up three
runs over 6 2-3 innings in Game 4 of last year’s series, a 7-3
victory in 11 innings.
The right-hander has yielded two runs or fewer in each of his
first two starts and gave up one over 7 2-3 innings in Sunday’s 5-2
win over Chicago.
If Porcello can’t derail the Rangers, the Tigers will look to
their ace to complete that task in the nightcap.
After failing to earn a victory in his first two outings,
Verlander (1-1, 2.13) gave up two runs and struck out nine Monday
in a 3-2 complete-game win against Kansas City.
The right-hander had only one victory through his first four
starts in 2011 before finishing a career-best 24-5 en route to AL
Cy Young and MVP honors.
“A lot of those (wins) last year came pretty easy,” he said. “I
told everyone my goal this season is to be a better pitcher, even
if my numbers might not be as good.”
Verlander is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in his past seven
regular-season starts against Texas, but the Rangers were one of
the five teams to hand him a loss last year with a 2-0 defeat April
11 at Comerica. He fared even worse versus Texas in the postseason,
going 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA.
Verlander might have to outduel Neftali Feliz (1-0, 2.25) if he
wants to earn another win over the Rangers. The converted reliever
shined in his first start with seven strong innings during a 1-0
win over Seattle on April 10.
He gave up three runs over five innings Sunday and did not get a
decision in a 4-3 victory at Minnesota.
“He’s obviously not coming out there full barrel anymore, like
you do when you’re coming in to close the game out. Starting the
game, you’ve got to pace yourself,” Leyland said. “But he’s
obviously got tremendous stuff.”