The Texas Rangers' powerful lineup was finally subdued by the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP.
In Sunday's series finale with the Detroit Tigers, the Rangers hope to have better luck against a pitcher appearing in his third major league game.
After combining for 20 runs and 36 hits in winning the first two games of this series at Comerica Park, Texas (12-3) was held in check by Justin Verlander and the Detroit bullpen in a 3-2 loss in the nightcap of Saturday's doubleheader.
"That's a championship team, and it is a championship team that's hot, but he did a tremendous job,'' Jim Leyland said Verlander.
Things got interesting in the ninth inning when Jose Valverde walked two, but he struck out Josh Hamilton to end it. Hamilton was 0 for 5 with four strikeouts in Saturday's second game after homering and driving in three runs in a 10-4 win earlier in the day. That victory extended the Rangers' winning streak to eight.
Texas will try to get back in the win column against Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.90 ERA), who has pitched well in his first two starts but has yet to face an offense as potent as the Rangers - not that there is one. Texas leads the majors with 91 runs, a .307 batting average and a .508 slugging percentage.
Smyly gave up one run and four hits in four innings against Tampa Bay in his major league debut April 12, and then allowed an unearned run and seven hits in six innings in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Kansas City, but the 22-year-old left-hander didn't receive a decision.
"He doesn't rattle much," Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "He's poised for a young kid."
Leyland hopes he stays composed facing a formidable Texas lineup.
Hamilton, the No. 3 hitter, is batting .438 with 12 RBIs in his last seven contests, while cleanup hitter Michael Young is batting .526 with two homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak.
"I've never seen a team as aggressive as they are right now - at the plate, on the bases, everything," Verlander said. "They've got a great lineup, and they are locked in, so they are trying to kill every pitch."
Colby Lewis (2-0, 1.83) is set to take the ball in the finale for the Rangers hoping to continue his string of strong outings and put an end to his struggles against Detroit (10-5).
Lewis allowed two runs - both in the first - and eight hits while striking out seven in seven innings in Tuesday's 18-3 win over Boston. The right-hander has yielded two runs or fewer in each of his three starts and has 22 strikeouts and one walk in 19 2-3 innings.
Last year, Lewis faced the Tigers twice in the regular season and once in the playoffs and was battered in each, going 0-2 with an 11.77 ERA. Detroit knocked him around for 28 hits - including seven homers - in 13 innings.
Since 2010, Lewis' 7.73 ERA against the Tigers is his second-worst against any team.
Miguel Cabrera, who homered in Saturday's first game and is batting .381 in his last five, has given Lewis trouble, going 5 for 12 with two doubles lifetime against him.
Prince Fielder has yet to pile it on Lewis as a member of the Tigers, but should be up to the challenge. Fielder, who hasn't homered since the second game of the season, is 2 for 3 with a pair of solo home runs lifetime against him.
- Justin Verlander
- Jim Leyland
- Josh Hamilton