Tigers-Rangers: Detroit Looks To Take First Home Series

Nick BarnowskiCorrespondent IApril 10, 2009

After losing three of four to the Toronto Blue Jays to start the season, the Detroit Tigers will look to rebound against the Texas Rangers in the first home series of the season.

The Rangers swept the Cleveland Indians to start off the year. Their hitting has been dynamic, unlike the Tigers' pitching, which has been less than thrilling.

This three game set will be an exciting one, with two of Major League Baseball's best offenses going at it.  Let's take a look.


Friday, April 10, 1:05 PM ET

Kris Benson (0-0, -.--) will take the hill for the Rangers while Armando Galarraga (0-0, -.--) will pitch for the Tigers in the first game at Comerica Park.  Jim Leyland rewarded Galarraga with the start in the home opener because his 13 wins were a bright spot on a team that was not very good in 2008.

For Benson, it will be his first start since Sept. 27, 2006, when he was with the Baltimore Orioles.  Faced with shoulder problems last year, Benson will look to start the season strong, and he says he is looking to start a new chapter in his career.

In three games against the Tigers, he is 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA and also threw a complete game. 

Getting hits off the first pitch was something the Tigers did well against Ricky Romero on Thursday, and they will look to do that again against Benson.  He has given up 23 home runs off the first pitch in his career, with a .351 batting average against to go with that.

Galarraga, acquired from Texas in February of 2008 for OF Michael Hernandez, will have a tough time against the Rangers' bats, which have been very hot to start the season.  Last season, Galarraga faced the Rangers once and threw a very solid game, defeating Texas in August.

Look for Detroit's offense to capitalize off of Benson's mistakes as it will be his first time pitching in a Major League uniform in quite some time.


Saturday, April 11, 1:05 PM ET

The second game of the series will feature lefty Matt Harrison (0-0, -.--) on the mound for Texas and 2006 Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander (0-1, 19.64) for Detroit.

Verlander is coming off of a horrible start against the Blue Jays in the season opener, where he gave up eight runs in four innings.  However, Verlander has pitched very well against the Rangers in his career, sporting a 4-1 record and a 2.30 ERA.

The key for Verlander in this game is to get command of his fastball early and to make sure the Rangers do not hit any home runs.  During their sweep of the Indians, Texas scored 29 runs and hit the most home runs in the AL with seven.

Harrison won nine games for the Rangers in 2008, setting a club record for the most number of wins by a rookie left-handed pitcher.  While he did go 9-3, his ERA was a gas-price high 5.49.

The Tigers need to be patient at the plate against Harrison, as he won't overpower batters with fastballs or throw them off-guard with breaking balls.


Sunday, April 12, 1:05 PM ET

Kevin Milwood (1-0, 1.29) will be picking up the rosin bag for the Rangers on Sunday, fresh off an Opening Day win in which he threw 113 pitches. 

For the Tigers, Edwin Jackson (0-0, 1.23) will look to have another efficient game after going seven-and-one-third innings against the Blue Jays.

In his career against the Tigers, Milwood is 4-4 with a 3.91 ERA, and 2-1 in Detroit.

One Tiger who has had success against Milwood is Miguel Cabrera, who has hit two home runs and has five RBI versus the Rangers ace.

The 25-year-old Jackson is 1-2 in four starts against Texas, although he does have a complete game and a shutout to his credit.

Ian Kinsler and Hank Blalock both have had success against Jackson.  Kinsler is three-for-nine with one home run and Blalock is three-for-five with two RBI.


For the Tigers, this series is crucial, so I expect them to finish it off with a win over Kevin Milwood and the Rangers.


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