One of MLB's best home teams over the past two months, the Texas Rangers will get to finish off their pursuit of the AL West title on their own field.
Colby Lewis will seek to open a seven-game homestand by outdueling the Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander again Monday night.
Texas (84-71) has won 23 of 30 on its own field and used that success to help boost it past Houston in the division. They had a 4 1/2-game lead over the Astros after a 6-2 victory Friday but dropped the final two contests to keep their magic number at five.
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"We want to be in our house," manager Jeff Banister told MLB's official website. "If we get to do what we want to do, we'll get to do it in our house."
Texas will seek to move closer to a division title while adding to Detroit's first losing season in seven years. The Tigers (72-83) were guaranteed that with a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on Saturday and they fell 7-1 in Sunday's finale.
Lewis (17-8, 4.36 ERA) will try to send them to another loss while becoming the Rangers' 11th pitcher to reach 18 wins and first since Matt Harrison in 2012. Often the beneficiary of robust run support, the right-hander has also aided his own cause lately with a 1.71 ERA in three consecutive winning starts and yielded two runs in six innings in a 10-3 victory at Oakland on Wednesday.
Lewis went seven innings in a 2-0 win Aug. 21 against Detroit, and Verlander (4-8, 3.49) gave up both runs with one earned in his seven innings.
The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner has endured an injury-shortened campaign in which he's made 18 starts and often seen lackluster run support, 3.26 per nine innings. He got enough for his first victory in four outings Wednesday, allowing three runs over seven innings in a 7-4 decision against the Chicago White Sox.
Verlander was 0-2 with a 3.74 ERA in his previous three starts but got a combined five runs to work with.
Verlander also showed renewed life on his fastball, cranking one up to 99 mph against his final better and four others at 98. He's set to make two more starts, including the season finale Sunday at the White Sox.
"That's impressive. Especially in September, late in the season, finding a way to bear down and reach back for all you've got for a couple pitches, very impressive. That's vintage (Verlander)," catcher James McCann said.
The Rangers won three of four in Detroit from Aug. 20-23 in their only other series with the Tigers this season despite Miguel Cabrera's torrid performances at the plate.
Cabrera went 9 for 14 with four doubles in that series and is a career .393 hitter against the Rangers. The only AL team he has a better average against is his current one (.417 in three games).
That could aid his pursuit of a fourth AL batting title. Cabrera's .337 average currently puts him 13 points ahead of Boston's Xander Bogaerts.
Cabrera had two doubles in his three at-bats against Lewis in August.
Former teammate Prince Fielder, batting .171 in his last 10 games, went 2 for 11 in the series in Detroit and dropped his career average against the Tigers to .209, his worst versus any team.