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Game 114 Preview: Tigers at Rangers

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KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 05:  Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium on August 5, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 05: Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Kansas City Royals in the first inning at Kauffman Stadium on August 5, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Detroit Tigers (61-52) at Texas Rangers (65-46)

Time/Place: 8:00 p.m., Rangers Ballpark in Arlington

SB Nation Blog: Lone Star Ball

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB Network, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Justin Verlander (12-7, 2.51 ERA) vs. LHP Derek Holland (7-6, 5.18 ERA)

Holland spent a month on the disabled list earlier this season, missing nearly all of June. Since returning to the Rangers rotation he has continued to struggle, posting a 5.31 ERA in 6 starts. During this period, he has allowed 10 home runs in just 40 2/3 innings. Normally, this elevated home run rate would lead me to put more stock into his season-long 4.35 xFIP, but the launchpad of a ballpark that he pitches in isn't doing him any favors.

Holland's only regular season start against the Tigers was in September of 2010, a 14-4 Rangers victory in which he allowed 4 runs in 4 innings. His two starts against them in the last postseason weren't particularly impressive either, though the Rangers won both games. Holland has not faced Verlander in his career, so the handsome run support that he has enjoyed in his limited outings against Detroit may come to an end tonight.

What do you say after a start like Verlander's last start? He was, for lack of a better word, simply amazing -- BUT NOT AS AMAZING AS MIKE TROUT, ACCORDING TO ESPN (who just mentioned him again as I typed this). Anyway, the current MVP continues to pick up the pace after the All-Star Break with a 2.25 ERA. His 3-2 record since the break, as we know, has largely been a matter of run support. JV was inefficient during his first start against the Rangers this year, getting through just 6 innings while allowing one run on 115 pitches.

Outlook

The Tigers are averaging 7 runs per game so far in August. While this won't continue, it's nice to see them on a roll against some stiff competition... and Cleveland. Hopefully the offense doesn't decide that Verlander on the mound = break for them, as they tend to do from time to time. With Holland struggling to keep the ball in the yard, there is no reason why we shouldn't be talking about whether Rick Porcello can bring home a sweep tomorrow.

Prediction

You can't bet against the MVP. The Tigers cruise to an easy 5-run victory.

Gameday Reading:

Scherzer battles, Nelson Cruz falls down a lot, Tigers beat Rangers - Walkoff Woodward, Grey Papke
"We enjoy watching Nelson Cruz flail around helplessly in right field. We like that. It’s fun. It does not change what happened last October, but if only for one night, it makes you feel a little bit better."

Starting Pitching Woes a Concern - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, Adam Boedeker
"Now, Holland and Darvish are both struggling horribly, and Matt Harrison is coming off a weak start with an excuse built in of having to receive an I.V. after the game because he was suffering from flu-like symptoms."

Rangers ready for Justin Verlander test - Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Drew Davison
"Verlander has always been a tough matchup for the Rangers. He is 7-2 with a 2.10 ERA in 10 career starts against them. The heat at Rangers Ballpark hasn't affected him, either, as he has gone 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three Texas starts."