It had to happen sooner or later, and Max Scherzer certainly has nothing to be ashamed about with a 13-1 record at the all-star break.
Scherzer's first loss of 2013 sets up a rubber game between his Detroit Tigers and the Texas Rangers this afternoon at Comerica Park. The final game for each team before the midseason vacation is also the last game between the clubs for the regular season, though we won't be surprised a bit if the Tigers and Rangers meet again in October.
Game 3 is a mismatch according to the MLB odds; Detroit backers have to fork over -170 for the privilege of betting on Justin Verlander and the Tigers while the Rangers send Martin Perez to the hill. The scoreboard tally is 8.5 runs and equally levied high and low.
The Rangers won their fourth straight with Perez on the mound this past Tuesday in Baltimore. The little Venezuelan gave up four runs, but only two were earned in his six innings of work. He served up just his second homer in more than 30 innings, and worked around three Texas errors thanks to eight groundball outs and four Ks.
Sunday will be Perez's first career start vs. the Tigers, though he did make his MLB debut against them last season as a reliever. That 2-out performance didn't go well at all with Detroit scoring four times.
Verlander climbs the hill for a 20th time this season and struggling to find some consistency. He looked fine two starts ago with seven shutout innings at Toronto on July 4, but got banged around last Tuesday at home vs. the White Sox. Chicago hitters rapped out 12 hits, including a pair of homers, during Verlander's seven frames, and Detroit fell for the fourth time in his last six assignments.
He was also roughed up by the Rangers back in May in a 10-4 defeat. Verlander allowed the first eight Texas runs without getting through the third inning, but is 7-3 lifetime against the Rangers with a 2.92 ERA.
Another warm, mostly sunny day is in the Motown forecast with the thermometer in the mid-80s and very little breeze expected for the first pitch. Calling the offerings of Perez and Verlander, along with their relief, will be Tim Welke (9-10-1 O/U/P). Five of his last eight plate assignments failed to reach the total, but one of his OVERS this season did involve Verlander (May 5 in Houston). Home chalk is 6-8 in his contests so far.
Beating Verlander twice in one season ain't gonna' be easy, but Texas is the best road team in the American League and I've developed a bromance for Perez. My free pick will be on the underdog Rangers.
My pick: Rangers +155 at Bet365
By: Willie Bee
The Detroit Tigers didn't waste time jumping on the Texas Rangers in the opener of a 3-game set. Now Texas has to try and even the series against a pitcher who has yet to record a loss on his personal ledger this season.
Part of FOX's Saturday prime-time regional lineup, Game 2 features a pitching matchup that should conjure up playoff baseball as Rangers southpaw Derek Holland goes up against Detroit All-Star Max Scherzer. They met twice a couple of postseasons ago, and the opening MLB odds levied a $1.70 charge on the unbeaten Scherzer. That price has come down a bit following overnight wagering, with the Tigers available from the mid-150s to mid-160s some 12 hours before the start.
The matchup is also carrying an 8 run total that favors one side or the other depending which baseball betting window you head to.
Five 1st-inning runs was all Doug Fister and the Detroit bullpen needed Friday to hand the Rangers their third straight loss. Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta each drove in two runs for the Tigers who maintained their 2.5-game lead in the AL Central.
Holland was on the bump this past Monday when Texas opened its 4-game series at Baltimore, grabbing the dubya in the Rangers' 8-5 decision. All five Oriole runs went on the southpaw's ledger, but two were unearned. The win was Texas' eighth in Holland's 10 road starts, holding hitters to a .239 average while pitching to a 3.06 ERA outside of the Lone Star State.
He has made five career starts vs. Detroit, including one this past May and two in the 2011 ALCS, yet has no decisions to show for them despite Texas winning each game (23.2 IP, 13 ER).
Scherzer is trying to become the first AL pitcher to win his first 14 decisions of a season since Roger Clemens in 1986, and Detroit is a sparkling 15-3 behind their K machine. Only one of those defeats came at home, to the Astros, no less, though his ERA at Comercia (4.01) in nine outings is close to two runs higher than his nine starts away (2.20). Scherzer didn't face the Rangers in Texas earlier this season, but is 4-0 with a 3.35 ERA in seven regular season starts.
Scott Barry is expected to call balls and strikes in Game 2 and brings a 10-7-1 O/U/P mark on the season into the contest. He started the year with eight of his first 10 plate assignments going OVER, but five of his last six games never reached the total. Barry, a Michigan native, worked two Rangers games already that both stayed UNDER and also was behind the plate for a Scherzer start in Houston that went OVER the scoreboard tally.
I'm going to get behind both hurlers in this battle with a sports picks on the UNDER.
Friday Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
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Baseball heads into its annual all-star break with an American League series pitting teams that would be in the playoffs, if October baseball arrived right now. I, for one, would love to see October arrive today since it's been so gol'darned hot here in Texas.
The Texas Rangers are not dealing with their native heat this week while their road trip continues, and it appears they might get real lucky with excellent weather in the forecast for Detroit this weekend against the Tigers. That's it from the weather desk until a little bit later in this morning's baseball betting preview.
Important info for Friday's series opener includes Justin Grimm and Doug Fister the scheduled starting pitchers, Fister delivering the 7:08 PM (ET) first toss from the Comerica Park mound, and the MLB odds charging about $1.90 to wager on Detroit with a 9 run total. The money line started about 10¢ lower and some baseball betting outlets are listing 9.5 for their scoreboard barrier. Let's see how this weekend series is shaping up and what we can add to our sports picks.
Grimm & Fister Both Struggling Entering Matchup
Grimm missed seeing action for the Rangers in their recently-completed series against the O's in Baltimore, and hasn't come away with a quality start since May 30. Texas bats and relievers have been able to win four of the seven games in that stretch despite Grimm's 9.00 ERA (33 ER, 33 IP). He also served up 10 gopher balls in those outings.
The former Georgia Bulldog did have his good stuff when he faced the Tigers in Texas on May 18, limiting the Detroit lineup to just a couple of runs while pitching into the seventh. Grimm's only other appearance vs. Detroit was back in June 2012 when the Motown Cats powdered him for six runs in only one full inning of work.
Fister got banged around the next day in that May series in Texas, the Rangers chasing him in the fifth after plating five runs. The lanky right-hander didn't figure into that decision, an 11-8 Texas triumph, and the contest served to start a downward spiral for Fister. He entered the May 19 start with a 3.06 ERA, a figure that has increased by a little more than a run over the past 10 outings with the Tigers only winning twice.
The last time Fister beat Texas was in Game 3 of the 2011 ALCS, and his lifetime record vs. the Rangers is 3-4, including that playoff victory, with a 5.53 ERA.
Rangers Visit Motown For First Time Since April 2012
The previous 10 collisions between these clubs were played in Texas with the Rangers winning seven of 'em, including three of four nearly two months ago when the totals split.
The Tigers are 35-26 vs. Texas at Comerica Park since its turnstiles were first opened in 2000, but lost three of the four played here in mid-April 2012 when the totals also halved. Detroit has swept the Rangers five times in 20 series meetings on this diamond, but Texas has turned around the Motown jinx in recent years. The Rangers won all three series between the clubs last year, and have cashed in 11 of the last 15 contests.
A very pretty weekend is the Detroit weather forecast, mostly sunny skies, early evening temps in the mid-70s and afternoon highs in the low-to-mid 80s. Any changes to that or wind updates will be noted throughout the weekend.
Texas bats sort of petered out the last two games of the series in Baltimore, and facing the likes of Fister tonight followed by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, there's a good chance the offense could remain fairly quiet all weekend. Detroit, on the other hand, has been in a win one, lose one rut for the past week and started this homestand by losing two of three to the White Sox.
Even with a pitcher on the hill tonight that the Rangers have belted in the past, I'm hesitant to get behind their offense, and surely have no confidence in Grimm. That just leaves but one play for my MLB picks, and that's the Tigers on the run line.
MLB pick: Take Tigers -1.5 (+115) at William Hill