Not only does Detroit have to face another southpaw next, it is also having problems winning of late when Justin Verlander takes the mound.
The Tigers will get their first look of the season at emerging Rangers lefty Martin Perez on Sunday while hoping Verlander can bounce back from a subpar effort.
Detroit (51-42) fell to 9-13 against left-handed starters as Derek Holland and two relievers held the Tigers to six hits in Saturday’s 7-1 victory. The Rangers handed Tigers starter Max Scherzer his first defeat after a 13-0 start.
Perez (3-1, 2.08 ERA) had an inauspicious big league debut out of the bullpen June 27, 2012, in his lone career appearance against Detroit. He recorded two outs, allowed four runs and had a wild pitch in a 13-9 victory.
He figures to present a different proposition now. The Rangers have won all four of his starts since he was recalled June 22 from Triple-A Round Rock, with Perez going 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA.
The worst of those outings came Tuesday in Baltimore. Perez surrendered four runs - two earned - over six-plus innings, but got credit for an 8-4 victory and drew praise afterward.
“You can see why they’re so high on Perez,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told the Rangers’ official website. “He’s got a really good arm, good changeup.”
A Detroit lineup that produced no extra-base hits Saturday figures to be challenged by Perez. Twenty-nine of the 34 hits he’s allowed this season have been singles.
The Tigers are just 10-9 when Verlander (9-6, 3.71) starts, including losses in four of his last six. The right-hander gave up five runs and a season-high 12 hits over seven-plus innings in Tuesday’s 11-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
“Just one of those days that happens at this level, at this time of the year,” Verlander said.
His poorest effort this season came when he gave up a season-worst eight runs over 2 2-3 innings in a 10-4 loss at Texas on May 16. He fell to 8-4 with a 3.27 ERA in 14 career starts against the Rangers, including two postseason outings.
Verlander is 5-2 with a 2.84 ERA in eight overall home starts versus Texas.
A.J. Pierzynski has faced Verlander more than any other hitter, going 19 for 74 (.257).
Nelson Cruz is just 2 for 17 against Verlander, but he came through with four hits Saturday as Texas (54-40) ended a three-game slide in which it totaled four runs.
Cruz is hitting .368 with 10 runs scored over his last nine games. He was 3 for 19 against Detroit in 2013 before Saturday.
Miguel Cabrera’s major league-leading average against lefties is .420 as he faces Venezuelan countryman Perez for the second time after walking on four pitches last year. Perhaps the reigning AL MVP will be more vulnerable Sunday since he’s hitting .333 in day games compared to .391 at night.
Another Venezuelan, Victor Martinez went 0 for 4 on Saturday as his 14-game hit streak ended.