07/21/10 12:47 AM ET
Rangers seek more road magic against Tigers
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
The Rangers have won by big margins and small ones, alternately relying on their offense and their pitching staff. But the winning has remained consistent, digging Texas out of a start that saw it go 8-15 in its first 23 road games. The Rangers have used their torrid streak to seize control of first place, and they're five games above .500 on the road for the first time all year.
To continue that trajectory, Texas will need to best a team that's among the best at home. Despite losses in the first two games of the series, the Tigers have won 17 of their past 22 home games and boast one of the league's best home records (32-15). Detroit will hand the ball to youngster Max Scherzer on Wednesday, and he'll be matched against veteran Colby Lewis.
Scherzer has seen his season statistics skewed by a difficult May that saw him log a 9.45 ERA in four starts. The 25-year-old has won four of his past five decisions, though, and has completed six innings in eight of his 17 starts. Scherzer allowed more than three earned runs three times in May, and he's combined to do it three more times in the season's other months.
Lewis, on the other hand, has gone 5-1 with a 3.37 ERA in his past seven starts, and he allowed three earned runs or less in six of them. Lewis has also won three consecutive road starts, notching a 4-4 record and a 3.44 ERA away from home this season. Lewis has logged more walks than strikeouts just once all year and has given up more than one homer two times in 18 starts.
The Tigers have been using one of the league's most dominant bullpens to stay afloat in a competitive division. The Tigers went into Tuesday's game with an 18-10 record and a 3.41 ERA for its relief staff, ranking second in victories and fourth in ERA among AL clubs. Closer Jose Valverde -- who has logged 19 consecutive saves -- lies at the heart of that success.
Rangers: Feliz has been a rookie rock
Nelson Cruz had a hit and an RBI in Tuesday's game, but he had a streak of five straight multi-hit games snapped. That streak was tied for the longest by the Rangers all year, and no Texas regular has done it six straight times since 2008.
Texas didn't need the services of closer Neftali Feliz on Tuesday night, but he's been one of the biggest factors in his team's success. Feliz is one of six closers in the past 10 years to have 25 saves as a rookie. The most recent, Andrew Bailey, won the Rookie of the Year Award last season, and Feliz is shaping up as a solid bet to repeat the feat.
Tigers: Jackson, Boesch holding their own
And if Feliz doesn't win that trophy, the Tigers will be well positioned to claim it for themselves. Outfielder Austin Jackson went 1-for-4 on Tuesday, but he leads AL rookies in runs (54) and hits (102). Teammate Brennan Boesch is providing some stiff competition, leading AL rookies in average (.321), home runs (12) and RBIs (50).
The Tigers put third baseman Brandon Inge on the disabled list with a broken left hand, and utilityman Don Kelly stepped in at third base. Kelly made two fine defensive plays Tuesday and went 1-for-2 before being lifted for a pinch-hitter.
The Rangers are 5-1 since the All-Star break and just 8-9 overall in July. ... Texas had lost 11 in a row at Detroit before winning the first two games of this series, and it represents the first time the Rangers have taken a series at Comerica Park since 2007. ... Detroit has lost seven in a row for the first time since the start of the 2008 season. ... The Rangers placed Dustin Nippert on the disabled list with a head contusion Tuesday and replaced him on the active roster by recalling Doug Mathis from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.