Tigers-Rangers Preview

The Detroit Tigers have been flexing their home run muscle this

month and that’s helped them close in on the AL Central lead.

The Tigers go for their fourth straight win and eighth in nine

games Tuesday night when they continue a three-game road set with

the Texas Rangers.

Detroit launched a season-high four homers – all in the first

three innings off Colby Lewis – en route to a 13-7 win Monday.

Brennan Boesch went deep twice among a career-high five hits, and

Andy Dirks and Alex Avila also homered.

“You just keep grinding and you know that eventually balls are

going to find seats and find holes,” said Boesch, who’s hit three

of his seven homers in the last three games.

Detroit (32-27) leads the major leagues with 14 homers in June,

and the Tigers’ surge has moved them within 1 1/2 games of slumping

Cleveland for the division lead.

Nelson Cruz homered twice and knocked in four for West-leading

Texas (34-27), which had its five-game winning streak snapped. Cruz

is batting .381 with six homers and 12 RBIs during a 10-game

hitting streak.

Looking for another dominant outing on the road, Rick Porcello

(5-3, 3.79 ERA) will take the mound for Detroit.

In wins at Minnesota and Pittsburgh last month, the right-hander

allowed one run and four hits in 13 innings. He limited the Pirates

to one hit in eight innings of a 2-0 win during his most recent

road start May 22.

Porcello has been much better away from Detroit this year, going

3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in six games. In his second start at Rangers

Ballpark, he will be looking for his first win in Arlington after

being tagged for six runs and 10 hits in four innings of the

Tigers’ 8-4 loss on April 25, 2010.

Porcello is coming off a 4-2 win over Minnesota on Wednesday. He

gave up two runs over 6 2-3 innings.

The Rangers have allowed 21 runs while losing three in a row to

the Tigers in 2011, but Texas’ Matt Harrison (5-4, 3.26) hasn’t

allowed a run in 14 1-3 innings over his last two games, and is in

position to match his longest winning streak of the season.

The left-hander had been 0-4 with 7.03 ERA in five starts before

facing Philadelphia on May 22. He responded by giving up five hits

in 8 1-3 innings of the Rangers’ 2-0 win. Six days later, he

surrendered five hits over six innings before leaving with a

blister on his right index finger in a 10-1 rout of Kansas

City.

“Excellent again,” catcher Mike Napoli told the Rangers’

official website of Harrison’s latest outing. “He was throwing

strikes and getting people out. That’s the name of the game for us,

just throwing up zeroes and keeping us in games.”

Harrison, who won his first three starts in 2011, was scratched

from Thursday’s matchup with the Indians due to the blister. He’s

0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in three career starts versus the Tigers.

Detroit may want to keep Ryan Raburn in the starting lineup

Tuesday. While riding a six-game hitting streak that’s raised his

average to .201, Raburn is 5 for 7 with two homers and five RBIs

against Harrison.