Detroit Tigers (3-6) vs. Texas Rangers (8-1) Game 1 Preview 1:05 ET


The Texas Rangers found the first game of their doubleheader Saturday a bit difficult but then were able to seal the deal on both the second game of the doubleheader as well as final game of the series on Sunday. The pitching was solid and the offense was strong – at least in the second and third games of the series.

They will look to continue their solid pitching performance and strong, hot hitting to secure a sweep when they visit Detroit to begin a three-game series today at Comerica Park. This is the first series of three series between  the Rangers and the Tigers for the 2011 MLB season as the Tigers will travel to Arlington June 6-8 and the Rangers will be back in “The Motor City” come August 2-4.

The Tigers haven’t been at their best so far this season with pitching and batting so the Rangers will hope their struggling ways will continue so the Rangers can attain 11-1 on the season.

More after the jump…

Pitching Matchups

The Rangers place reliever turned starter Alexi Ogando on the mound for the first in Detroit. Ogando was more than the Rangers could have expected in his debut as a starter, replacing Tommy Hunter due to a groin injury. The right-hander got the win in his first game. He pitched six innings, throwing four strikeouts and two walks while allowing no runs on just two hits. Solid performance for his debut ending with an ERA of 0.00. In his three appearances as a relief pitcher against the Tigers last year, Ogando allowed one run on three hits over 2 1/3 innings.

The Tigers will counter with Justin Verlander. The right-hander has an ERA of 3.86 for two games this season and is 1-0. Over 14 innings, he has struckout 17 and walked six while allowing six runs on seven hits. Verlander hasn’t lost a game against Texas in five years. Over his previous six starts against the Rangers, he is 5-0 with an earned run average of 1.66.Over 38 innings, he has thrown 45 strikeouts while allowing just seven earned runs. His sole loss to Texas was in September of 2006 so for his career, he 6-1 against the Rangers with an earned run average of 2.37 over eight starts.

Pitchers vs. Hitters

Alexi Ogando:  Jhonny Peralta is 1-for-3 and Casper Wells as well as Ramon Santiago are 1-for-1 with the rest of the lineup unable to get a hit off Ogando. Alex Avila hit his third ball out of the park on Sunday for the season as did Miguel Cabrera.

Justin Verlander:  Josh Hamilton is the only batter with an average above .333 – Hamilton is 3-for-8. Ian Kinsler is 2-for-14, Adrian Beltre is 8-for-28, Mike Napoli 3-for-15, Nelson Cruz is 1-for-5.

The career stats don’t look to favor the Rangers, but stats don’t mean everything. The Rangers have been hitting balls out of the park like nothing with Nelson Cruz having five on the season, Ian Kinsler picked up his fourth last night for the season, Mike Napoli has three home runs in his 14 at-bats for the season, and Adrian Beltre has hit homers in his previous two games. Don’t underestimate the Rangers.

Bullpen Outlook

After having four days off, Neftali Feliz picked up his third consecutive save of the season yesterday.
Dave Bush has still yet to be on the mound, but is the likely candidate to spot start Wednesday since Colby Lewis won’t have had enough rest to pitch.

Mark Lowe has appeared in three games pitching a scoreless ninth Saturday against Baltimore but he only retired 1 of the four face batters Tuesday against Seattle though he did get the final out in the sixth inning against Boston.

Darren O’Day pitched 0.2 scoreless innings in Baltimore yesterday and a scoreless ninth Wednesday against Seattle for a 7-3 win. Darren Oliver got his first 0.D. win for his career against Boston. He pitched a solid seventh inning at Balitmore yesterday.

Arthur Rhodes came in and pitched a scoreless eighth against Seattle Wednesday and has not pitched in the past four days. Monday, Rhodes allowed just a single run against Seattle and he also pitched a scoreless seventh inning on Opening Day against Boston.

Pedro Strop was in the eighth inning against Baltimore Saturday and had two balks. He allowed no runs in the eighth inning in Game 2 against Boston.

Mason Tobin allowed no runs Saturday against Baltimore but the game was still a 5-0 loss. In his Major League debut in Game 2 against Boston, Tobin allowed a two-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury in the seventh inning.

My Prediction

The Rangers definitely have the upper hand in this three-game series. The Rangers are flaming hot and are sure to continue their success. This is especially true looking at the performance of the Tigers this season. In fact, Sunday, the team committed four errors in their loss to Kansas City – and that’s a career high. Since 2008, this is their worst start of nine games.

Despite being 21-30 at Comerica Park, the Rangers can definitely take two out of three of this series if nothing else with this game today probably being the toughest due to the Tigers’ starting pitcher being the best they currently have based on this season’s performance. Regardless of who wins today, it’s likely to be a low scoring game.