The Texas Rangers hope to continue their strong start as they open a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers, who have tailed off considerably since starting the year as one of the majors’ biggest surprises.
The Rangers have scored 160 runs this season, while the Tigers have produced 159. Both clubs rank near the top of the American League in offense.
However, the Texas pitching staff has helped the Rangers remain near the top of the AL West, while the Tigers are starting to drop back in the Central.
After allowing 100 runs in 22 games in April, the Rangers have yielded 15 en route to a 4-1 record this month.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have allowed 42 runs in losing four of five to begin May.
“I’m real proud of the advances they seem to have made,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said of his pitching staff.
Four Texas pitchers combined to scatter seven hits in a 6-1 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
Michael Young continued his stellar play for the Rangers, going 4-for-4 with a solo homer. With a season-high four hits, Young is on an 11-for-23 roll that’s upped his average to .377. The shortstop’s 17 multihit games lead the majors, as do his 46 hits.
“We’re just having a good time winning,” he said. “That’s what I take pride in.”
After having a five-game winning streak snapped Tuesday, the Rangers rebounded with their 10th win in 12 games.
Detroit comes in after being swept in a three-game series by Anaheim, losing the finale 6-3 on Wednesday. The Tigers, who have lost four straight and seven of nine, have given up at least 10 runs in each of their last three games.
“I’m just hoping that we can rebound and come back strong this weekend,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “I’m going to recharge and hopefully the team will. I think we need to stay together and just keep grinding and battling.”
Detroit, which lost an AL-record 119 games a season ago, had not lost three in a row before its series with Anaheim.
STANDINGS (through May 5): Tigers - 3rd place (tied), 4 1/2 GB, AL Central. Rangers - 1st place (tied), AL West.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Jeremy Bonderman (3-1, 5.52 ERA). Bonderman has won his last two starts, posting a 3.15 ERA over 12 2-3 innings. The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits over 7 2-3 innings on Saturday as the Tigers beat Seattle 4-2. Bonderman earned a win against the Rangers in his only previous outing against them, surrendering three runs and four hits over seven innings in a 7-4 victory on Aug. 12.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Joaquin Benoit (1-0, 3.57 ERA). Benoit yielded two runs and six hits in seven innings of an 8-5 win over Boston on Saturday. The right-hander has a 1.38 ERA in two starts since beginning the season in the bullpen. Benoit is 1-0 with a 5.71 ERA in three career appearances against Detroit.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Tigers - Ivan Rodriguez, .359 avg.; Rondell White, 7 HRs and 24 RBIs; White and Carlos Pena, 23 runs; Alex Sanchez, 4 SBs. Rangers - Young, .377 avg., 22 RBIs and 27 runs; Young, Laynce Nix, Hank Blalock and David Dellucci, 5 HRs; Alfonso Soriano, 4 SBs.
2003 SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 6-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Tigers - Detroit ranks near the bottom of the AL with a 5.79 ERA. … C Rodriguez is batting .434 (10-for-23) with three home runs and six RBIs in his last six games. … OF White is batting .396 with six home runs, three doubles and 16 RBIs in 13 road games. Rangers - Texas has won five straight series. … Texas leads the AL with a .309 average. … DH Brad Fullmer is batting .321 (27-for-84) with seven home runs, two triples, nine doubles and 19 RBIs in his career against Detroit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Tigers - 6-7 on the road; Rangers - 12-4 at home.
INJURIES: Tigers - 3B Dmitri Young (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Nate Cornejo (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Fernando Rodney (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Lino Urdaneta (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Chris Spurling (elbow), 60-day DL. Rangers - RHP Colby Lewis (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Brian Shouse (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Mickey Callaway (hand), 60-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (shoulder), 60-day DL.