The Detroit Tigers need to start making their mark on the road if they hope to be left standing in the playoff chase come October. They visit the Texas Rangers on Saturday in the middle game of their weekend set at 8:05 p.m. (ET).
The Don Best odds screen has Detroit as 145 favorites with a total of 8½ ('over' -120). The odds are dramatically affected by ace Justin Verlander being on the mound, while Derek Holland gets the unenviable task of opposing him.
Detroit (60-52) is only 27-29 on the road, losing its last three series. The team has been tremendous at home in Comerica Park, recently winning 10-straight, but that ended with losses to the Yankees the last two days.
Note the Tigers record is pending the Friday night series opener. Texas was listed as 140 favorites behind the suddenly-hot Scott Feldman.
The Rangers (65-45) are playing this one home series sandwiched around two road ventures. They’re only 5-5 at home in the second half, compared to 29-16 before the break.
Verlander (12-7, 2.51 ERA) is coming off a great start last Monday against the Yankees. He allowed just two unearned run over eight innings (7-2 win) while striking out 14 in front of the excited home crowd.
The 29-year-old right-hander has been much more vulnerable away this year (3.36 ERA) than in Motown (1.51 ERA). That includes losing his last two starts at Cleveland and Boston (a combined seven earned runs over 12 innings).
Note that Verlander got struck in the calf in the Yankees game, and it could be something to watch. He has one start against Texas this year, getting the win after allowing one unearned run over six innings at home. He has a 1.29 ERA in three career starts at Texas.
Holland (7-6, 5.18 ERA) is having a disappointing season after going 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA last year. He’s hit another bad blip his last four starts (7.00 ERA) with the team losing three. He allowed a whopping nine home runs over that span.
The 25-year-old lefty has a 6.19 ERA at home. He hasn’t face the Tigers this year and has just one regular season appearance against them in 2010, four runs (one earned) over four innings.
Holland does have one betting stat in his favor as Detroit is just 2-9 in its last 11 road games against a lefty starter.
The Rangers are 5-2 against Detroit this year. They’re 6-1 in the last seven meetings in the Lone Star State (2-1 this year).
Texas catcher Mike Napoli (quad) was expected to return to the lineup on Friday after missing two games.
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