A triple play has been one of the highlights of the Detroit Tigers’ series with the Texas Rangers. The teams may not need any unusually stellar defense to help Kevin Millwood(notes) and Edwin Jackson(notes) keep the score low.
The Tigers look to win their 10th straight home game against the Rangers and their sixth in a row overall as two of the league leaders in ERA match up Thursday in the finale of a three-game set between first-place teams.
Detroit (22-16) extended its longest winning streak of the year Wednesday night despite hitting into a triple play, beating Texas 5-3. The AL Central-leading Tigers are a win away from matching their longest win streak from last season.
A victory Thursday also would give Detroit 11 straight at home over Texas (23-16), the AL West’s top team, since a 13-6 loss in the opener of a doubleheader Sept. 11, 2007.
Justin Verlander’s(notes) strong outing helped the Tigers overcome the majors’ third triple play of the season—on Gerald Laird’s(notes) liner in the fourth inning— and now they hand the ball to their best starter through the season’s first six weeks.
Jackson (3-2, 2.42 ERA), in his third full season as a starter, has won two straight outings as he’s struck out 13 and walked one in 14 innings. The only run he gave up in those two starts was in his last performance, allowing six hits while striking out six in seven innings as Detroit beat Oakland 14-1 on Friday night.
“He was still throwing 95 (mph) in his last inning—he would have pitched the eighth if we needed him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
However, the right-hander struggled against Texas on April 12, surrendering four runs and two homers with three walks in six innings during a 6-4 Tigers win. He’s 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA in five starts against the Rangers.
Millwood (4-3, 2.93) opposed Jackson on April 12 and fared much better, giving up four hits while striking out six in seven scoreless innings. The veteran right-hander is 4-4 with a 3.56 ERA in 12 starts against Detroit.
Millwood leads a Texas rotation that has a 3.12 ERA over its last 14 games. He’s gone at least seven innings in all but one of his eight starts.
“The bottom line is if we pitch good all year, we’re going to win,” Millwood told the Rangers’ official Web site.
He won for the third time in four starts Friday night, giving up two runs in six innings as Texas beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-8.
Millwood will be facing a Tigers lineup that got a boost from Wilkin Ramirez(notes) in his major league debut Wednesday. Ramirez, who batted third and was the designated hitter, broke a 1-1 tie with a solo homer in the sixth inning.
“Before the game, I was wondering how great it would be if I could hit a home run for my first hit, so I couldn’t believe it when I did it,” said Ramirez, who hit .316 with five homers, 13 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 30 games with Triple-A Toledo before being recalled Tuesday.
Rangers All-Star Josh Hamilton(notes) (groin) could be back in the lineup after not starting the last two games. He took batting practice and ran the bases prior to Wednesday’s game, then flied out as a pinch hitter in the ninth.