Series Preview: Rangers/Tigers

The standings won't necessarily show it, but the Texas Rangers have found themselves playing some better ball as of late. They'll look to continue it against a tough pitching staff belonging to the defending American League Champ Detroit Tigers. Lone Star Dugout takes a look at this upcoming four game series.

Rangers (30-45) at Tigers (45-29)


Monday, 6:05 PM: Kameron Loe (3-6, 6.34 ERA) vs. Jeremy Bonderman (8-0, 4.01 ERA)
In his past two wins, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Loe has allowed 11 hits and just three runs in 14 2/3 innings. All three of those runs came last Wednesday against the Cubs, where he also gave up six hits, one walk, and struck out four. Comparing the way he's pitched since returning from Triple-A to the way he was before his demotion is like night and day. Tonight sets up to be the toughest matchup that "New Loe" has faced since his recall as he will be facing a Tiger team that's hitting a collective .293 this season.

Speaking of the Tiger offense, arguably nobody in the Detroit starting rotation has reaped their benefits more than Jeremy Bonderman has. He's won eight consecutive starts and his 17 straight starts without a loss has tied a 67 year-old mark set by pitcher Bobo Newsom in 1940. Against the Washington Nationals last week, Bonderman wasn't on top of his game, but the Tiger offense picked up his slack and shellacked the Nats pitching staff with a five-run top of the sixth. And here's another telling stat to show you how potent the Detroit bats have been this season: In 13 starts this season, Bonderman has had an ERA over 7.00 in five of them.

He's lost just one of those starts.

Tuesday, 6:05 PM: TBD vs. Nate Robertson (4-6, 5.07)
Looks like it'll either be John Koronka or Willie Eyre to make the start for the Rangers on Tuesday night. If it's Koronka, he hasn't faired all that well against the Tigers in his career: In two career games he's 0-1 with a 14.21 ERA. Eyre hasn't started a game in his big league career but has performed admirably working out of the long relief role in the bullpen.

Nate Robertson will come off the disabled list for this start after spending over two weeks on the shelf with what a tired pitching arm. In his last start before going down with an injury, the Rangers teed off against Robertson to the tune of six runs and chased him from the game before he could record an out. With the recent trade of Mike Maroth, the spot in the rotation for the lefty has been cleared and commendable fill-in guy Chad Durbin will likely be bumped somewhere else.

Wednesday, 12:05 PM: Kevin Millwood (4-6, 7.31) vs. Kenny Rogers (1-0, 0.00)
Millwood has pitched better as of late, allowing him to bring that astronomically high earned run average a little bit lower to the ground. He gave up a bunch of hits on Friday, nine of them, but allowed just three runs to score and was granted a lot of wiggle room by a Rangers offense that put up 11 runs for support. After two stints on the disabled list and a gaggle of horrible outings, it's a little premature to believe that he's on his way back on track. But to double your season win total in the past five days, you've got to be at least a little encouraged.

It was a remarkable comeback game for the 42 year-old Rogers last week as he shut out the Braves in his season debut. The Braves bats have been slumping as of late, and they were held off-balance all night by the crafty left-hander and his arsenal of off-speed pitches. He plunked Kelly Johnson of the Braves with his first pitch, but he settled down after that and managed to retire the next 10 guys in order. The pitch count against his former team will likely be higher than the 75 he was allowed to throw in his first outing.

Thursday, 12:05 PM: Jamey Wright (1-1, 7.43) vs. Justin Verlander (9-2, 2.78)
Despite six walks over 5 2/3 innings of work in his last outing, Wright picked up the win and was able to make the right pitches when tough situations arose. The offense also helped Wright by breaking through against Houston ace Roy Oswalt with three runs in the fifth and four in the eighth. With Brandon McCarthy returning from the disabled list soon, this might be one of the last starts for Wright in the starting rotation.

Like most of the season, Justin Verlander was dominant again in his outing on Saturday against Atlanta. A Chipper Jones solo homerun accounted for the only blemish on his afternoon, and with the win Verlander lowered his ERA 2.78, good for third in the American League. Although he's been untouchable when the Rangers have faced him at home, the Rangers were victorious by an 11-3 margain when they faced the righty in Detroit last September.

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