The Detroit Tigers appeared to be cruising to their first postseason appearance in 19 years. Thanks to a month-long skid, they are now barely clinging to the AL Central lead.
The Tigers (86-58) look to begin a turnaround when they open a two-game series with the Texas Rangers (73-71) on Tuesday at Comerica Park.
Detroit, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 1987, held a commanding 10-game advantage over the second-place Chicago White Sox on Aug. 7. It has since gone 10-22, though, and has seen its division lead cut to just 1 1/2 games over Minnesota.
The Tigers are coming off a crucial series loss to the Twins, including a 12-1 defeat in Sunday’s finale. After winning the opener 7-2, Detroit was outscored 23-7 in dropping the next three games.
“If we don’t play better,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “we’ll get our (tails) kicked by everybody we’re playing. Plain and simple.”
Detroit lost three of four games to Texas from Aug. 17-20, the first of seven straight series it has failed to win. Kenny Rogers (15-6, 3.91 ERA) registered the only victory for the Tigers in that set and will try to get them back on track when he faces his former team for the third time this season on Tuesday.
The left-hander, who has played for the Rangers on three separate occasions and is second on their all-time wins list with 133, is 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA in his first two starts against them this season. He is 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA in 13 career games—including 12 starts—versus Texas.
The 41-year-old Rogers is 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA over his last five starts, but is coming off a shaky outing on Wednesday when he allowed four runs and eight hits over seven innings in a 5-4, 10-inning loss to Seattle.
Rogers gave up more earned runs than his previous five starts combined, but avoided his first loss in nearly a month.
The four-time All-Star has been dominant at Comerica Park, going 7-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 14 starts this season. The Tigers haven’t been as successful there against the Rangers, however, losing seven of the last 10 meetings.
Texas snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Mariners on Sunday. Shortstop Michael Young was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, including the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, and was involved in all four of the double plays Texas turned.
“He was just being Michael Young,” Rangers starter Adam Eaton said. “There’s a reason why he was the All-Star MVP and why he’s been our MVP the full year.”
Young has also hit well against Rogers, going 4-for-5 with two doubles this season and 7-for-12 during his career.
Vicente Padilla (13-9, 4.52) takes the ball for Texas looking to tie his career high in wins. The right-hander recorded 14 victories in 2002 and 2003 while with Philadelphia, but is coming off back-to-back poor outings.
Padilla gave up six runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings Wednesday, but didn’t receive a decision in a 9-6 loss at Oakland. That performance followed a 7-2 loss to Cleveland on Sept. 1 when he allowed six runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings.
Padilla is 2-0 with a 2.77 ERA in two career starts against the Tigers, including a 5-3 win on April 9 when he allowed three runs and seven hits over six innings.