Tigers-Rangers Preview

The Detroit Tigers hope Justin Verlander’s latest outing will

give him the momentum he needs to get back on track away from

home.

Looking to avoid losing three straight road starts for the first

time in more than four years, Verlander tries to help the Tigers to

a second straight victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on

Saturday night.

Though Verlander (12-7, 2.51 ERA) has pitched well after winning

the AL MVP and Cy Young Award in 2011, the right-hander has a 5.25

ERA while losing his last two road starts to fall to 6-5 with a

3.36 ERA away from Comerica Park. He has not dropped three straight

starts on the road since a five-game skid to open the 2008

season.

Verlander, however, gave up two runs and matched a career high

with 14 strikeouts in eight innings of a 7-2 home win over New York

on Monday.

“(My last start) felt night-and-day different from my last

couple of starts,” Verlander told the Tigers’ official website. “I

really felt much more in sync from the get-go.”

That’s certainly something positive to build on in Arlington,

where he had a 1.29 ERA in his first three starts before giving up

three runs in four innings of a 3-2 loss in Game 1 of the 2011 AL

championship series.

He’ll try to help the Tigers (61-52) take this three-game set

after winning 6-2 on Friday. Prince Fielder hit a three-run home

run and Austin Jackson added an inside-the-park homer as Detroit

rallied from an early two-run deficit to avoid a third straight

loss.

Fielder has batted .455 (15 for 33) with four homers and 12 RBIs

in nine August games after going 0 for 12 in the final four of

July.

“When you have Prince in your lineup, you’re always one swing

away from getting the game back in your favor,” winning pitcher Max

Scherzer said.

Catcher Alex Avila is batting .457 during an 11-game hitting

streak. He’s 7 for 14 in his last four versus Texas (65-46), which

can use a good start from Derek Holland (7-6, 5.18) to help even

the set.

The left-hander is 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his last four starts

and has allowed six runs in three of those outings, including

Sunday in a 7-6, 10-inning loss at Kansas City.

“It’s pathetic,” Holland told the Rangers’ official website.

“I’m very upset with myself. I’m supposed to be stepping up and I

look like garbage out there.”

Holland also has struggled to keep the ball in the park at home,

giving up eight homers while going 1-2 with an 8.18 ERA in his last

four starts there.

He does not have a decision while posting a 6.35 ERA in three

starts – all at home – against the Tigers, including two in the

ALCS last season.

Texas’ Nelson Cruz had two hits Friday but left with lower back

stiffness. He is 8 for 14 in his last four games.

“I think he’ll be a player (Saturday), we’ve just got to wait

and see,” manager Ron Washington said.

Teammate Michael Young is batting .357 (15 for 42) during a

10-game hitting streak. Including playoffs, he is 8 for 33 (.242)

with 10 strikeouts against Verlander.