MLB

Rangers-Tigers Preview

Randy Wolf has made 372 starts in a 15-year major league career, though only four have come in the last three years - and none were with playoff-contending teams.

Wolf finally cracks back into the big leagues on his 39th birthday Saturday night looking to help the Detroit Tigers close in on the Texas Rangers in the AL wild-card race.

Wolf's first start since June 14, 2014, is a big one for the Tigers, who have split the first two of a four-game set with the visiting Rangers and still sit behind them and a handful of other teams vying for the playoffs.

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With their already slim postseason chances in danger of fizzling away, the Tigers (59-62) found themselves in need of another arm when Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris were placed on the disabled list this week.

Enter the nearly forgotten Wolf, who went 9-2 with a 2.58 ERA in 23 starts with Toronto's Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo before getting dealt to the Tigers for cash considerations Thursday.

Detroit manager Brad Ausmus delivered the news to Wolf, whom he caught from 2008-09 with Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I think the most impressive thing is that with all his big league experience and time, he's still willing to put in the time at the minor league level to make it back," Ausmus told MLB's official website. "I think that speaks to his character and how much he loves the game of baseball. It's a very different lifestyle."

Wolf - joining a short list of players his age - will make just his third start as an AL pitcher during a career that started in 1999. As a member of the Dodgers in '09, he made his only start against the Rangers, allowing just two singles in five scoreless innings of a 3-1 win.

Adrian Beltre, who is 5 for 18 lifetime against Wolf, and Prince Fielder have each homered against the lefty. Texas is batting .247 against left-handed pitching this season.

Playing in Wolf's favor is a healthy Miguel Cabrera, who had three more hits in a 2-0 loss to the Rangers (62-59) on Friday night - which snapped Detroit's four game winning streak against Texas. Cabrera is hitting .500 since coming back from a left calf strain that kept him on the DL for six weeks.

Cabrera has two singles in three at-bats against Texas starter Yovani Gallardo.

Gallardo (9-9, 3.39 ERA) will try to push his record over .500 for the first time since July 7. He has followed three straight rough outings in which he allowed 15 earned runs over 14 innings with a steady three-start stretch.

The right-hander logged only 16 combined innings in those games, but he limited Houston, Minnesota and Tampa Bay to six earned runs and 17 hits to pick up two wins while posting a 3.38 ERA.

Gallardo was touched up for 11 hits against the Rays on Sunday, but he worked out of trouble often and limited the damage to three runs in 5 1-3 innings to earn the win.

All three runs scored in the first two innings, but Gallardo mixed his curveball in more often to hold down the Rays from there.

"Early on, it was obvious that Yovani was a two-pitch guy today," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told MLB's official website. "He had to make some adjustments but he kept their guys off balance and got the outs he needed."