Verlander looks to extend a three-start winning streak as he takes the mound for the Tigers in the decisive game of their series with the Rangers on Wednesday night.
Detroit’s pitching has struggled this season, but one starter it’s been able to count on regularly is Verlander (16-5, 3.56 ERA). He has posted a major league-best 0.83 ERA among starters since Aug. 27 en route to winning his last three outings.
Verlander also is a win away from matching his career high in that category, set last season. The right-hander gave up one run and seven hits in eight innings of a 6-1 win over Seattle on Friday night.
Verlander will be facing a Texas team that’s second in the majors with 6.14 runs per game since Detroit’s ace began his current run.
Against the Rangers on June 6, Verlander yielded five hits and struck out six in seven innings as the Tigers won 10-0. He is 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three career starts against Texas.
A strong start from rookie Jair Jurrjens helped Detroit beat Texas 4-1 on Tuesday in the nightcap of a doubleheader. The Rangers won the opener 13-6.
Detroit (79-67) is 6 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central, and trails the New York Yankees by four games for the wild card.
“We’re a huge, huge long shot for the division, but we’ve got a legitimate chance at the wild card,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We’ve got to keep taking care of business and, obviously, we’ll need some help.”
Tuesday’s loss in the nightcap ended Texas’ season-best winning streak at six games, but it has still won 13 of 16.
“I guess you’d have to say it is the hottest we’ve been all year,” Rangers rookie manager Ron Washington said.
Byrd went hitless in three at-bats in the second game after going 9-for-16 in his previous four. The center fielder is batting .355 (11-for-31) with two home runs, two triples and nine RBIs in eight games against Tigers this season.
Byrd went 3-for-4 to help give Edinson Volquez (2-0, 2.45) a win in his last start. Volquez, who is expected to be among the young candidates for rotation spots on Texas next year, will get the ball for Wednesday.
The right-hander allowed two hits while striking out five in six innings of a 5-3 win over Oakland on Friday night. Volquez’s only start against the Tigers was on Aug. 17, 2006, when he gave up three runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 4-2 loss.