Kenny Rogers wasted little time returning to his dominant form from a season ago. Now, the Detroit left-hander hopes to continue his impressive pitching against his former team.
Rogers tries to help the Tigers avoid a third straight loss when they continue a four-game series with the Texas Rangers on Thursday at Comerica Park.
This game comes a day later than expected, with Wednesday’s contest having been postponed due to rain. It will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader on Sept. 11.
Rogers (1-0, 0.00 ERA) missed the beginning of the season after a blood clot was removed from his pitching shoulder in the spring. The veteran left-hander made his 2007 debut on Friday, pitching six innings and allowing just two hits in a 5-0 victory over Atlanta.
He didn’t issue a walk and struck out five, throwing 47 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
“This surpasses what I would have expected,” Rogers said. “I don’t ever go into a game saying I’m going to shut a team out. I’ve always been willing to give up a run here and there to minimize the damage.”
Rogers looked every bit the pitcher who went 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA during the 2006 regular season and won all three postseason starts to help Detroit (45-31) reach the World Series.
“Kenny was Kenny,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, whose team is trying to avoid a season-high fifth straight home loss. “He did what he usually does, a little of this, a little of that, in and out, changing speeds. He picked right up where he left off.”
Rogers now faces the Rangers (32-45), who he posted a 133-96 record and 4.16 ERA with in 12 seasons. His last stint with them came from 2004-2005, when he went 32-17 with a 4.14 ERA before signing with the Tigers before the 2006 season.
The 42-year-old is 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 14 career games, including 13 starts, versus Texas. He’ll face a hot Rangers squad that has won six of its last seven games - averaging 8.1 runs and batting .310 during that stretch.
Texas scored five times in the seventh inning and three times in the decisive ninth to beat Detroit 9-6 on Tuesday. Brad Wilkerson hit a three-run homer and Sammy Sosa went 3-for-4 with two RBIs for the Rangers, who have won six of their last seven games in Detroit.
“We’re a good team,” said Texas’ Marlon Byrd, who hit a two-run go-ahead triple in the ninth. “We have ups and downs, but we play as a team and that showed tonight.”
Kevin Millwood (4-6, 7.31) tries to win his third straight start when he takes the mound for Texas on Wednesday. The right-hander went 0-5 with a 10.05 ERA in seven starts from April 18-June 12, a stretch which included two stints on the disabled list.
He has bounced back with consecutive victories, including an 11-3 win over Houston on Friday when he allowed three runs and nine hits through six innings.
Millwood is 3-3 with a 4.20 ERA in eight career starts versus the Tigers and suffered a dismal 10-0 defeat to them on June 6 when he gave up a season-high seven earned runs over 3 2-3 innings. He has won his only two starts in Detroit, though, allowing just four runs through 14 innings.
Millwood will try to slow Magglio Ordonez, who is 6-for-13 with a double against him and batting .449 (22-for-49) during a 13-game hitting streak.
Detroit’s Carlos Guillen has at least one RBI in his last 10 games, the best streak by a Tigers player since Willie Horton had a 10-game run in 1976. He is batting .452 (19-for-42) during a career-best 13-game hitting streak, but is just 1-for-15 versus Millwood.