The Detroit Tigers were considered to contend for the AL pennant before this season began, but have been one of the most disappointing teams in the majors. The Texas Rangers may have a tough time believing that, however.
The Tigers look to continue their dominance over the Rangers as they wrap up their three-game set on Wednesday.
Detroit (62-64) is 10 1/2 games behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox, and likely going to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. In the midst of their struggles, the Tigers seem to be taking out their frustration on slumping Texas (62-65).
Detroit has taken full advantage of facing the Rangers, who have a major league-worst 5.43 team ERA, as the Tigers have outscored them 56-20 in winning all five meetings this season. Detroit has won seven straight over Texas dating back to last season and has not won eight in a row over it since May 1-Aug. 8, 2001.
The Tigers scored nine runs in the seventh inning in Tuesday’s 11-3 win over the Rangers after plating four runs in both the seventh and eighth in Monday’s series-opening 8-7 victory.
“We felt a little more comfortable,” said Detroit rookie Matt Joyce, who drove in four runs had the first multihomer game of his career Tuesday. “We got pitches we could do something with and had some big hits.”
Texas, meanwhile, has lost 11 of 13, and is one loss away from falling four games under .500 for the first time since it was 16-20 on May 8
“It’s not going to get any easier,” catcher Gerald Laird said. “We’re going to have to gut it out. We either turn it around or it’s going to be a long month and a half.”
The Rangers have allowed at least seven runs in 10 of their last 11 games, and they hope Kevin Millwood (6-7, 5.58) can put an end to that trend as he takes the ball.
On Friday, Millwood yielded five runs and 10 hits—including a career high-tying four home runs—with seven strikeouts in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-0 loss to Tampa Bay in his first start after spending three weeks on the disabled list with a strained right groin. The Rangers’ opening day starter is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four starts since defeating Baltimore on July 6.
This will be the right-hander’s first start of the year against the Tigers after recording a 9.31 ERA in losing both of his starts against them last season.
Detroit counters with Nate Robertson (7-9, 5.87), who is near the bottom in nearly every major statistical pitching category.
The left-hander gave up five runs, eight hits and five walks in 5 1-3 innings of an 11-2 loss to Baltimore on Friday, and has just one win in his last 10 starts.
Robertson has a 16.55 ERA in three road starts since the All-Star break, and had one of the worst outings of his career in his last start at Rangers Ballpark on June 5, 2007. He allowed the first six batters to reach base, and they all came around to score. He was then lifted before he could record an out in a 7-4 loss.
He is 3-4 with a 3.67 ERA in 10 career starts versus Texas.