Baseball Lines: Tigers' Max Scherzer vs Rangers' and Colby Lewis
Monday, June 06, 2011
by Frank Martin
As the Cleveland Indians slip back to the pack, the Detroit Tigers stand poised to make a run at first place in the American League Central. Unfortunately the schedule is not doing them any favors right now. The Texas Rangers are red-hot, pushing their way clear of the pack in the AL West while winning their last five.
The Tigers have been surging as well, taking advantage of a soft spot in the schedule to move up. Colby Lewis will try to keep rolling when the Rangers host Detroit in the opener of a three-game series on Monday night.
Lewis has been on fire recently, going 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA in his last seven starts. He went eight scoreless innings at Tampa Bay last Wednesday, striking out eight and yielding four hits to pick up the win. Lewis faced Detroit three times in his return to the majors in 2010, going 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA.
Scherzer, who began the season 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA through his first nine starts, has been hit hard recently. The last two outings have been the worst, as the 26-year old has combined to allow 14 runs and 16 hits in 8 2/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. Scherzer earned a win over the Rangers on April 13, yielding two runs in six innings, and is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four career starts against Texas.
Texas did Detroit a big favor over the weekend, sweeping the Cleveland Indians in dominating fashion. The Rangers outscored the Indians 24-6 in the four-game series, including shutouts in the last two contests. They have won five straight and eight of their last nine overall, with six of those triumphs coming on the road. The Detroit series represents a quick three-game homestand for Texas, which will head back on the road for 10 straight after the series.
While the return of Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton to the lineup has certainly helped, the Rangers’ pitching has been more impressive of late. Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson have dominated the last three games and the Texas rotation has recorded six quality starts in the last seven.
The Rangers’ dominance over the weekend allowed Detroit to creep within 2 1/2 games of the Indians in first place in the AL Central, the closest it has been since April 26. The Tigers have helped themselves out by winning six of seven, including the last two in a three-game series at the Chicago White Sox over the weekend. Ryan Raburn, who is getting the majority of playing time at second base for Detroit of late, recorded his first extra-base hit since May 7 on Sunday, clubbing a grand slam to cap a six-run rally in the fourth inning. Miguel Cabrera added a solo blast in the 7-3 win and has homered in four of the last six contests.
Lefthander Matt Harrison is still on schedule to start for the Rangers on Tuesday despite a variety of ailments. Harrison left his last start on May 28 due to a blister and skipped his next turn with the same problem. Now it is a kidney stone that has Tuesday’s turn in jeopardy. Harrison had to visit the hospital on Thursday and missed Saturday’s game but returned to the ballpark on Sunday. He is hoping the stone passes in time for Tuesday’s start.
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