It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Texas Rangers own baseball's best record considering they lead the majors in runs scored and the AL in ERA.
After scoring 10 runs in the series opener to win their seventh in a row, the Rangers turn to their top starting pitcher in Matt Harrison for Friday night's game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
In meeting for the first time since winning last season's AL championship series, Texas (11-2) pounded out 19 hits in Thursday's 10-3 win over the Tigers (9-4). Mike Napoli homered for the fourth straight game, while Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Nelson Cruz - last year's ALCS MVP - had three hits apiece for the Rangers, who improved to 6-0 on the road, equaling a team record set in 1989.
Texas has plated 53 runs while batting .345 during its seven-game streak and leads the majors with 79 runs, 23 homers, a .306 batting average and a .521 slugging percentage.
If that isn't impressive enough, the Rangers also lead the AL with a 2.38 ERA and their starting pitchers are 9-0 for the first time in club history.
"We know that's a very good team - our people in Arizona said they were the best team they saw this spring,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But they are in our league, so we have to play them.''
Harrison (2-0, 0.64 ERA) is leading the rotation with an ERA that is tied for the best in baseball among pitchers with at least 13 innings.
The left-hander allowed a run and seven hits in eight innings in last Friday's 4-1 win over Minnesota, improving to 6-0 with a 2.01 ERA over his last seven regular-season starts. Since the start of last season, his 2.84 road ERA is tied for third-best in the AL.
Harrison had a solid outing in Game 4 of last season's ALCS at Comerica Park, yielding two runs, three hits and three walks in five innings of a 7-3, 11-inning win.
He hasn't been as effective against Detroit in the regular season, however. He had a 6.30 ERA in losing his two regular-season starts against the Tigers last year, and is 0-4 with a 7.43 ERA in five career starts against them.
Detroit scheduled starter Rick Porcello (1-0, 1.84) opposed Harrison in Game 4 and has been almost as strong this year.
Against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, Porcello surrendered one run and five hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 5-2 victory. The sinkerballer has walked one in 14 2-3 innings.
"He's throwing the ball real well," Leyland told the Tigers' official website. "He's got good life, and he's throwing the ball better."
In Game 4 of last October's ALCS, Porcello gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He also made two relief appearances in the series, allowing two runs in 2 1-3 innings.
In his lone regular-season start against the Rangers last year, the right-hander allowed a run and six hits in six innings of an 8-1 victory in Texas on June 7.
Detroit's loss Thursday snapped a four-game winning streak, and was just its second in seven contests at Comerica Park.
The Tigers matched a season low with five hits in the opener, but walked a season-best six times - five coming against the erratic Yu Darvish.
The slumping Ryan Raburn, batting .081 in 37 at-bats, got the day off in the opener, but could be back in the lineup Friday. Raburn is 8 for 12 with two homers and two doubles lifetime against Harrison.
Miguel Cabrera is batting .400 in 15 career at-bats against Harrison.
- Matt Harrison
- Comerica Park