Rangers-Tigers Preview

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Texas Rangers

own baseball’s best record considering they lead the majors in runs

scored and the AL in ERA.

After scoring 10 runs in the series opener to win their seventh

in a row, the Rangers turn to their top starting pitcher in Matt

Harrison for Friday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers at

Comerica Park.

In meeting for the first time since winning last season’s AL

championship series, Texas (11-2) pounded out 19 hits in Thursday’s

10-3 win over the Tigers (9-4). Mike Napoli homered for the fourth

straight game, while Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz –

last year’s ALCS MVP – had three hits apiece for the Rangers, who

improved to 6-0 on the road, equaling a team record set in

1989.

Texas has plated 53 runs while batting .345 during its

seven-game streak and leads the majors with 79 runs, 23 homers, a

.306 batting average and a .521 slugging percentage.

If that isn’t impressive enough, the Rangers also lead the AL

with a 2.38 ERA and their starting pitchers are 9-0 for the first

time in club history.

“We know that’s a very good team – our people in Arizona said

they were the best team they saw this spring,” Tigers manager Jim

Leyland said. “But they are in our league, so we have to play

them.”

Harrison (2-0, 0.64 ERA) is leading the rotation with an ERA

that is tied for the best in baseball among pitchers with at least

13 innings.

The left-hander allowed a run and seven hits in eight innings in

last Friday’s 4-1 win over Minnesota, improving to 6-0 with a 2.01

ERA over his last seven regular-season starts. Since the start of

last season, his 2.84 road ERA is tied for third-best in the

AL.

Harrison had a solid outing in Game 4 of last season’s ALCS at

Comerica Park, yielding two runs, three hits and three walks in

five innings of a 7-3, 11-inning win.

He hasn’t been as effective against Detroit in the regular

season, however. He had a 6.30 ERA in losing his two regular-season

starts against the Tigers last year, and is 0-4 with a 7.43 ERA in

five career starts against them.

Detroit scheduled starter Rick Porcello (1-0, 1.84) opposed

Harrison in Game 4 and has been almost as strong this year.

Against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, Porcello surrendered

one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory. The

sinkerballer has walked one in 14 2-3 innings.

“He’s throwing the ball real well,” Leyland told the Tigers’

official website. “He’s got good life, and he’s throwing the ball

better.”

In Game 4 of last October’s ALCS, Porcello gave up three runs

and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He also made two relief

appearances in the series, allowing two runs in 2 1-3 innings.

In his lone regular-season start against the Rangers last year,

the right-hander allowed a run and six hits in six innings of an

8-1 victory in Texas on June 7.

Detroit’s loss Thursday snapped a four-game winning streak, and

was just its second in seven contests at Comerica Park.

The Tigers matched a season low with five hits in the opener,

but walked a season-best six times – five coming against the

erratic Yu Darvish.

The slumping Ryan Raburn, batting .081 in 37 at-bats, got the

day off in the opener, but could be back in the lineup Friday.

Raburn is 8 for 12 with two homers and two doubles lifetime against

Harrison.

Miguel Cabrera is batting .400 in 15 career at-bats against

Harrison.