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ON DECK: Tigers make lone trip to Arlington for series with Rangers

Twas a bit of a tough series loss to endure for the Detroit Tigers this past weekend in Kansas City. They drop three of four, allowing the Royals to secure their first series win of the year.

The big theme for Detroit in that series at Kauffman? Missed opportunities. The Tigers left a total of 37 runners on base combined over the four games and went just 8 for 38 (.211 BA) with runners in scoring position.

UP NEXT

Detroit (14-19) now looks to get back on track as they close out this seven-game road trip with three games down in Arlington against the Texas Rangers (13-23). It’s been a really rough go for the Rangers, who currently sit in the basement of the American League West. They are coming off a series loss at home to the Boston Red Sox and have won just two of their first 11 series this season.

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In their defense, to some degree, they have been working with a patchwork type of lineup to start the year. This is a Rangers team currently without the services of multiple key contributors due to injury. Among those include shortstop Elvis Andrus, third baseman Adrian Beltre, second baseman Rougned Odor, and starter Martin Perez.

This head-to-head series has been in favor of Texas in recent years. The Rangers have taken the season series in each of the last three seasons. Detroit however, has left Arlington with a series win in two of their last four trips, most recently in 2016.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Game 1 | Michael Fulmer (Tigers) vs. Matt Moore (Rangers)

Detroit has to like their chances to get off on the right foot in this series with their ace on the bump. After his last start against Tampa Bay on May 2, Michael Fulmer (1-2, 2.80 ERA) has now gone three straight starts of at least six innings and two runs or fewer. He’s made two career starts against the Rangers, both in Arlington. The first of which came during his rookie campaign, a four-hit complete game shutout.

Lefty Matt Moore (1-4, 7.67 ERA) was, once upon a time, an up-and-coming hurler for the Tampa Bay Rays when he debuted in 2011. However, since undergoing Tommy John surgery early in the 2014 season, the promise for Moore has evaporated quickly. Since the start of 2015, his career ERA in 84 games sits just a tick over 5.00. He’ll be making just his third ever start against the Tigers, first since 2013.

Game 2 | Mike Fiers (Tigers) vs. Mike Minor (Rangers)

It was not the crispest of outings for Mike Fiers (2-2, 5.00 ERA) his last time out. Fiers lasted just four innings and allowed five runs against the Royals on Thursday. It was his third start in which he yielded multiple home run balls. Now he will face a Rangers team that absolutely torched his ass last season. In three starts against Texas in 2017, Fiers allowed 19 ER in just 14 IP, including seven gopher balls… woof.

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Texas southpaw Mike Minor (3-1, 4.36 ERA) has been one of the under-reported feel-good stories around baseball. Minor spent his first five major league seasons with the Atlanta Braves (2010-14) but then was sidelined for two whole seasons rehabbing from surgery on a torn labrum. He returned in 2017 as a reliever for the Royals and was terrific (2.55 ERA in 65 games), parlaying that into a three-year deal with the Rangers this past offseason.

The 30-year-old has made four of his six starts this year at Globe Life Park, compiling a 2.86 ERA.

Game 3 | Francisco Liriano (Tigers) vs. Bartolo Colon (Rangers)

While he did not pick up the win for his performance, Franciso Liriano (3-1, 2.97 ERA) put together arguably his best start of the young season in Kansas City last Friday. Liriano went a season-high seven innings, pitching into the eighth before getting the hook. He has still only allowed three runs or fewer in every one of his outings for the Tigers this season. He will look to continue that trend against a Texas team that tagged him for seven earned in 7.2 innings of work last season (four appearances, one start).

Big Bart is still kicking, Nation! The ageless wonder that is Bartolo Colon (1-1, 3.29 ERA) will toe the slab for the Rangers in the matinee series finale. The 45-year-old inked a minor league deal with Texas this offseason and was promoted to the big league club just days into the season to give the team some much-needed pitching depth. He’s done that and some, going at least seven frames in three of his last four starts.

The man they call “Big Sexy” has a career 5.25 ERA in 28 games against the Tigers. He lone start against them last season came when he was a member of the Twins: 6.1 innings of one-run ball on three hits.

HITTERS TO WATCH

John Hicks has been the biggest beneficiary to the nagging injuries surrounding Miguel Cabrera for the Tigers. Hicks after a three-hit game on Sunday, including his third homer of the season, is hitting .292 in 13 games played. He’s currently riding a modest a five-game hit streak and has at least one knock in all but three of his games played this season.

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One could make a case that Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara is the best player under the age of 25 that nobody knows about. Already in his third full major league season, Mazara is off to perhaps his best 35-game start offensively with a .814 OPS. The 23-year-old, who finished 5th in AL Rookie of the Year voting back in 2016, has a .910 OPS in 10 career games against the Tigers, heightened by a 1.169 mark in that department last season against Detroit.

SERIES INFO

  • Game 1 | Mon, May 7 @ 8:05 p.m. ET
  • Game 2 | Tue, May 8 @ 8:05 p.m. ET
  • Game 3 | Wed, May 9 @ 2:05 p.m. ET

All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check your local listings for regional radio broadcasts.

Written by Alex Muller

MSU Graduate. Just a city boy born and raised in south Detroit. Baseball is life, a pitcher at heart. Freelance writer for MIPrepZone (News-Herald, Press & Guide).

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