Tigers-Rangers Preview

Josh Hamilton’s return has certainly sparked the Texas Rangers

offensively, but one of baseball’s best lineups hasn’t been asked

to do too much lately.

The Rangers have given up six runs and posted three shutouts

during five consecutive wins, a streak that began with an

outstanding performance Colby Lewis hopes to replicate in Monday’s

opener against a visiting Detroit Tigers team looking for its

seventh win in eight games.

Hamilton had 12 RBIs in 12 games upon returning from the

disabled list, but manager Ron Washington gave the reigning AL MVP

a day off Sunday in Cleveland.

Texas’ offense didn’t need him. The Rangers’ third shutout so

far in June came courtesy of C.J. Wilson and two relievers, a 2-0

victory that finished off a four-game sweep of the AL

Central-leading Indians.

This is the third time this season Texas (34-26) has posted

back-to-back shutouts. The Rangers last had three in a row May 7-9,

2008.

“Our pitchers have led the way the last few weeks,” designated

hitter Michael Young said. “That’s the way it has to be if we’re

going to get where we want to go. If our pitchers keep pitching

like this, I like our chances.”

The stellar streak began when Lewis (5-5, 3.48 ERA) took the

hill Wednesday in Tampa. The right-hander held the Rays to four

hits over eight innings, striking out eight, in a 3-0 victory.

Lewis is 4-2 with a 2.04 ERA in seven starts after opening the

season 1-3 with a 6.95 ERA.

“The biggest thing is my fastball command,” said Lewis. “When

I’m able to command my fastball, it makes all my other pitches

better. Right now I feel comfortable out there, and everything is

going well.”

Lewis was 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in three starts versus Detroit

(31-27) last season, and it was AL Rookie of the Year runner-up

Austin Jackson that gave him the most trouble. Jackson went 5 for

10 with a homer against Lewis.

Jackson got the Tigers started in a big fourth inning Sunday in

Chicago. His single was one of six hits – Ryan Raburn’s grand slam

was the key blow – in a six-run inning, sparking a 7-3 win that

pulled Detroit within 2 1/2 games of Cleveland.

Raburn was in a 6-for-52 slump before the slam, but he has hit

safely in five consecutive games.

“I’m getting close,” he said. “Consistency is still not there

but I feel a lot better and as long as I can keep getting that one

hit, hopefully it will turn into two or three hits.”

Facing the Rangers could help. Raburn’s a .383 (18 for 47)

career hitter against Texas, and had seven RBIs in his last three

games in Arlington in 2010 – including a pair of doubles against

Lewis.

Max Scherzer (6-2, 4.38) is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four starts –

all quality – against the Rangers, but his two most recent outings

have been dismal. The right-hander gave up seven runs in two

innings May 26 in a 14-1 loss to Boston, then surrendered seven

over 6 2-3 before leaving without a decision in Tuesday’s 8-7 win

over Minnesota.

Scherzer’s ERA has gone up nearly a run and a half in those two

starts.

Young, who’s 4 for 11 with three extra-base hits against

Scherzer, has a 15-game hitting streak versus Detroit in which he’s

hitting .443 with 16 RBIs.