The Detroit Tigers boasted one of the most dominant rotations in the majors, until this past week.
Trying to end his own recent woes, Justin Verlander looks to help his scuffling club get back on track with another stellar home start against the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
Detroit's starters had a major league-best 2.64 ERA in the team's first 39 games but have put up an abysmal 8.55 ERA during a 1-5 stretch. The Tigers (28-17) gave up more runs than in any other game this year and a season-high 19 hits in Saturday's 12-2 drubbing to Texas.
"Every team at some point in the year is going to go through a stretch," catcher Alex Avila told the team's website. "You just try to continue to press on and the ship will right itself."
A day after the Rangers officially lost former Detroit slugger Prince Fielder to a season-ending neck surgery, rookie Rougned Odor went 4 for 5 with two triples, a double and five RBIs. He was batting .194 (6 for 31) with one extra-base hit and two RBIs in his first 11 major league games.
The last three hitters in Texas' lineup - Odor, Donnie Murphy and Leonys Martin - went 8 for 12 with eight RBIs and seven runs. Leadoff batter Shin-Soo Choo, though, was forced to leave with an ailing left ankle and may sit out Sunday.
"I'll have to wait and see how it feels tomorrow," Choo told the team's website.
Verlander (5-3, 3.55 ERA) is 6-1 with a 1.69 ERA in last eight home starts against Texas, including one in the 2011 AL championship series. The Tigers ace took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in those most recent of those games, a 5-0 victory July 14.
Verlander, though, is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA in his last two outings after posting a 2.67 mark in his first eight games. He gave up a season-high 11 hits and five runs over six innings in Tuesday's 6-2 loss in Cleveland.
Texas (24-25) is batting .354 with a .970 OPS in this series and has outscored the Tigers 23-11 while taking two of three. Adrian Beltre is 10 for 22 with two homers in his last six contests, and Alex Rios is 9 for 18 during a streak of four consecutive multihit performances.
Rios is also hitting .433 in his last seven games against Detroit and is 14 for 40 (.350) lifetime against Verlander. Beltre is batting .381 in his past 32 regular-season contests versus the Tigers and has seven hits in his last 18 regular-season at-bats against the right-hander.
Rios and Beltre will try to support Colby Lewis (3-3, 5.40) as he attempts to bounce back from another lackluster outing. The right-hander is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA in his last three starts and gave up five runs in six innings in Tuesday's 6-2 defeat to Seattle.
He was tagged for a season-high seven runs and 12 hits in 3 2-3 innings in a 9-2 loss to Colorado on May 7 but bounced back with a 4-0 win in Houston five days later, striking out eight over 5 2-3 innings.
Lewis is 2-3 with a 6.64 ERA in seven career starts against Detroit, including one in the 2011 ALCS.
Victor Martinez, 7 for 17 in his last four games, is 6 for 12 lifetime against Lewis including the postseason. Ian Kinsler is 7 for 12 with four doubles in his first series against his former club and will seek to extend his hit streak to 11 games.