Preview: Tigers turn to Verlander to end skid
Last Sunday the Detroit Tigers (28-17) left Fenway Park on a league-high six-game winning streak and winners of 15 out of 18 games. The rest of the American League Central Division was a distant memory as the Tigers held a seven-game lead over the second-place Kansas City Royals.
Fast forward one week: Detroit has more work to do.
After being swept in Cleveland, the Tigers have come home for a four-game series with the Texas Rangers (24-25) and lost two of the first three by a total score of 23-11. Brad Ausmus still has his team atop the American League, so there is no reason to panic in Detroit.
But ace Justin Verlander will take the mound Sunday looking to stop the losing in its tracks.
Verlander will face a Rangers lineup that posted 19 hits on Saturday, including four doubles, two triples and two home runs. Every starter had at least one hit for Texas, while six of them had multi-hit games and No. 1 prospect Rougned Odor had four hits and five RBI.
The 31-year-old right-hander has struggled in the month of May, watching his ERA increase with each start and allowing a total of 15 runs in four starts. He hopes to get back on track against a Rangers team that owns a respectable .264 team average against him.
Detroit will face right-handed Colby Lewis, who has failed to record a quality start in seven games this season. Lewis went six innings for the first time on May 20, but the Seattle Mariners scored five runs against the 34-year-old.
The Tigers have great career numbers against Lewis, combining for a .306 average with five home runs. The veteran will need to be careful with the middle of the Detroit lineup, as Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson and Alex Avila combine for a .393 average (22/56) with three home runs and eight RBI against him.
Sunday is the final game of the short four-game home stand for the Tigers. The team will fly to Oakland Sunday night for the start of a seven-game West Coast trip that starts Monday afternoon.