Inconsistency and underachievement have dogged the Detroit Tigers, while the ability to keep winning despite having four of their top pitchers on the DL has defined the season for the Texas Rangers. What will happen when these two meet tonight?
The two finalists in the AL
a year ago meet in the rubber match of their 3-game series in Texas on Wednesday with a potentially strong
pitching matchup between Doug Fister and Roy Oswalt. The Rangers are priced as the -150 favorites
for the 8 PM (ET) contest, and the 10 run total will cost about 20 cents more
for those MLB bettors who like the OVER.
Expectations of seeing these two teams in an ALCS rematch
this fall were certainly warranted before the season began. Texas
has done its part to make that happen by sitting at or very near the top of the
AL West since the beginning. The Rangers
have been hit hard by injuries to their mound corps, with the latest being
Opening Day starter Colby Lewis who joins Derek Holland, Neftali Feliz and
Alexi Ogando on the DL. Yet they have
continued to win, holding off the Angels' turnaround by going 20-12 the last
five weeks to maintain a 4.5-game lead at the top of the division.
The Tigers have floundered all year and are a level 16-16
since May 22, yet have somehow managed to stay in the AL Central race despite
sitting two games below .500 for the campaign. Just three games out of the division lead, there is still plenty of time
for the Tigers to get their act in gear and make it back to the postseason
where they could have another shot at these Rangers.
posted an 8-2 win in the opener, laying the lumber to Rangers rookie Justin
Grimm early to cash as +135 underdog. Texas bounced back
Tuesday with a 7-5 triumph as -190 chalk behind rookie Yu Darvish plus home
runs from Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler. Game 2 skipped over the 10 run total, stopping a string of sixth
straight UNDERS for Tigers.
Oswalt worked around nine hits over 6.2 innings in his
season debut last Friday at The Ballpark in Arlington, limiting the Rockies to
just a run in a 4-1 Rangers victory as -190 favorites. It was definitely a strong performance for
being his first live action against major leaguers since last October's ALDS
when he was pitching for the Phillies opposite the Cardinals.
Though he has never faced the Tigers before, Oswalt has seen
their two big boppers over the years while he, Miguel Cabrera and Prince
Fielder were each toiling in the National League. Cabrera is just 3 for 15 with a double
against Oswalt while Fielder has taken him deep once, but otherwise only has a
.139 batting average (5 for 36) to show for the confrontations.
Fister has taken on Texas
often in his short career, including a winning start against the Rangers in Game
3 of last fall's ALCS. The former Fresno State
star had five outings vs. Texas while with the Mariners and two more since
joining the Tigers (including the ALCS contest), and it all adds up to a 4.07
ERA in 46+ innings.
He has been the victim of run support so far this year, as a
1-4 record and 2.72 ERA would suggest. Since scoring 10 runs in his season debut on April 7, a game in which
Fister left early with an strained muscle in his left side, Detroit's lineup has plated just 17 in Fister's
seven starts after coming off the disabled list.
Texas took three of four in
this year, but the Tigers have generally been a pain in the Rangers' side
throughout the years. The Tigers won
seven of the 12 season series from 2000-11, the Rangers just three along with a
couple of ties. With the loss Tuesday
night, Detroit has still won three of the last
five games played in the Lone
Taking a Chance: Another
hot day in Arlington
should favor the hitters in what has always been a hitter-friendly ballpark to
begin with. Still, I am drawn to the
UNDER for a few reasons and that's the way I will play it. My MLB pick is UNDER 10 (+100).
Check back on Thursday
when we take a look at the Reds and Giants who open a critical 4-game set at AT&T Park.