Series Preview: Rangers/Tigers

Michael Young has performed better at the plate

The Tigers enter Arlington Tuesday night for the first of three against the cellar-dwelling Rangers. Can the Rangers make life difficult for the visitng Tigers? Lone Star Dugout takes a look.

Tuesday, 7:35 PM: John Rheinecker (0-0, ---) vs. Nate Robertson (4-5, 4.25)
Rheinecker will step in and take the place of Vicente Padilla, who will miss his scheduled start with what's being described as "arm irritation." The lefty will be bringing with him a refined arsenal of pitches and a new changeup that hopefully provides better results then last year. Rheinecker finished 2006 with a 4-5 record and a 5.86 ERA in 13 starts and went 0-1 with a more respectable 3.60 ERA in eight appearances out of the bullpen. While he was able to hold lefties to a .197 average last season, right handed batters hit an earth-shattering .392 off him. He'll surely have his hands full handling righty Magglio Ordonez, who is a career .362 hitter against the Rangers As for Padilla, the latest malady to hit an already plague-filled starting rotation will only bench Padilla for this start and he's not expected to go on the disabled list.

Nate Robertson has seen his earned run average balloon to over four thanks to a 2-4 record and 6.12 ERA in the month of May. So far this season, left-handed batters are hitting .323 off him. However, for a guy who's held hitters on that side of the plate to a .240 average over his career, that's a disturbingly high number for him. Robertson, who's usually a lock for early season success, has served up five dingers in his last two starts and could seriously use a good start to pull out of his own downward spiral of sorts.

Wednesday, 7:35 PM: Kevin Millwood (2-4, 6.69) vs. Justin Verlander (5-2, 3.44)
The ace of the Rangers rotation has been anything but so far this season. After returning from the disabled list last Friday, he was greeted in Seattle by a Mariner team that torched the veteran for seven runs on 10 hits in just five innings of work. Over his last five starts, Millwood has gone 0-3 with an earned run average hovering just above the stratosphere at 8.87. He's also gone 1-2 with a 7.90 ERA in Arlington so far this season. However, there is some good news: Against the Tigers, Millwood is 3-2 with a much more respectable 3.15 ERA.

In his last start, Justin Verlander was ejected after just five innings for arguing balls and strikes. But because the Indians had already battered the right-hander for seven runs and eight hits, it's unlikely he would have lasted much longer anyway. He'll be returning to the scene of his first major league victory: A seven inning, seven strikeout masterpiece on a cold Arlington Saturday night in April of 2006.

Thursday, 7:35: Kameron Loe (1-5, 6.37) vs. Mike Maroth (3-2, 5.28)
After an invigorating performance in an April shutout victory over Oakland, Loe has failed to show much of anything for the Texas Rangers. With just 2.5 walks per nine innings, wildness hasn't really been a problem for him so far this season. But free passes partly led to his demise last time out in Seattle when four of Loe's walks came around to score critical runs in a 5-4 loss to the Mariners. The loss dropped Loe to a miserable looking 0-5 with a 7.29 ERA in his last eight starts. In his career against the Tigers, he's made just three relief appearances and has a 3.86 ERA against them.

The luck of Mike Maroth ran out on May 22nd when he allowed six runs on seven hits over seven innings of work in a loss to the Angels. Although going undefeated until that point, the native Floridian has looked very pedestrian all season, and has actually given up more hits than innings pitched in all but two of his 10 starts this year. All three of his victories this season have come on the road, but he's given up 15 earned runs over 14 1/3 innings of work in three career starts against the Rangers. The Detroit Free Press has also reported that the Tigers have made Maroth expendable, thanks to the likes of Kenny Rogers, Chad Durbin and an influx of pitching talent ready to join the Detroit starting rotation.

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