Martin Perez will try to win his fourth straight decision on Sunday afternoon as the Texas Rangers and the Detroit Tigers close out a three-game series at Comerica Park.
Since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22, Perez (3-1, 2.08 ERA) has been a huge boost to the Rangers' rotation, winning three of four starts while allowing two runs or less in each outing. The left-hander was strong once again his last time out, allowing two runs in six innings of work in a July 9 win over Baltimore.
"(He's) throwing strikes, not getting caught in any patterns, (and has) a great mound presence," Texas manager Ron Washington said of his 22-year-old southpaw. "He's doing everything he's supposed to do to be successful."
The opposing pitcher will be Justin Verlander, who is having a down year by his lofty standards at 9-6 with a 3.71 ERA. He boasts an uncharacteristically high WHIP (1.39) and batting average against (.265), although he still ranks among the American League leaders in strikeouts with 122.
Verlander's struggles continued in his latest outing, as he was saddled with the loss on July 9 against the White Sox after yielding 12 hits and five runs in seven innings.
"Just one of those days that happens at this level at this time of the year," Verlander said. "Felt good, but just wasn't able to execute there in the eighth."
Verlander faced the Rangers on May 16 and had his worst start of the season, allowing eight earned runs while failing to make it out of the third inning.
On Saturday night, the Tigers saw the end of Max Scherzer's historic winning streak as they fell, 7-1.
Scherzer (13-1) was looking to become the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to start a season 14-0 but was roughed up for eight hits and four earned runs in six innings of work.
"I threw some good pitches, they hit it. I threw some bad pitches, they hit it even further," Scherzer said. "It's a loss. That's what happens when you don't quite pitch as well."
The Rangers got to Scherzer in the third inning. After a sacrifice fly from A.J. Pierzynski, Mitch Moreland belted a two-run homer to give Texas a lead it would never surrender. Nelson Cruz finished 4-for-5 for the visiting team, while Adrian Beltre was 3-for-5 with his 21st home run of the season and seventh in July.
Out-dueling Scherzer was Derek Holland (8-4), who despite walking five over seven innings allowed just one run while striking out seven.
Torii Hunter collected two hits for the Tigers, while Hernan Perez drove home the only run with an RBI single in the fourth.
Victor Martinez pulled an 0-for-4 to snap his hitting streak at 14 games.
Texas is 12-5 versus the Tigers over the past 17 meetings.