A year after winning both the American League Cy Young and the MVP, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander has further proven himself as one of the game's best with an outstanding 2012 season.
At 12-7, Verlander seems unlikely to match his 24 wins from a season ago, but that doesn't mean he has been any less dominating. His 2.51 ERA is third-best in the AL and his 166 strikeouts are tops in the majors.
The hard-throwing right-hander is fresh off one of his best performances of the year, pitching eight innings in a 7-2 win over the Yankees on Aug. 6, allowing eight hits, one walk, and two unearned runs while matching a career- high with 14 strikeouts.
"Did you see some of those pitches?" Tigers catcher Alex Avila said of Verlander, who has still clocking 100 mph on the radar gun in the eighth inning. "That last curveball (that struck out Ichiro), I don't think anybody could hit it. I had trouble enough catching it."
Verlander has had his way pitching in Arlington, winning all three of his starts there with a 1.29 ERA.
The Rangers will counter with Derek Holland, who's been spotty at best this season with a 7-6 record and a 5.18 ERA.
The southpaw was knocked around in his last start, allowing eight hits, two walks, and six earned runs over six innings in a no decision against the Royals on Aug. 5. He's now allowed six earned runs in three of his six starts since coming off the DL on July 7.
Holland has just one career start against the Tigers, and though he lasted only four innings, he allowed just one earned run and struck out five.
In the first game of a weekend set on Friday night, the Tigers came out victorious, 6-2.
The majority of Detroit's damage came in a four-run sixth inning, highlighted by a three-run home run from Prince Fielder, his 20th of the season.
"When you have Prince in your lineup, you're always one swing away from getting the back in your favor," Tigers starter Max Scherzer said. "That's kind of what happened."
Austin Jackson added an inside-the-park homer in the top of the seventh for good measure. Jackson, Avila, Miguel Cabrera all had two hits apiece for the Tigers.
Scherzer (11-6) struggled with base runners all night but managed to keep the damage to a minimum, allowing eight hits and two walks but just two earned runs over six innings of work, striking out eight in the process. Octavio Dotel and Jose Valverde combined for three innings of scoreless ball out of the bullpen.
After allowing just three earned runs over his previous 22 2/3 innings, Scott Feldman (6-7) came back down to this time around, surrendering four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in the loss.
Josh Hamilton blasted his 31st homer of the season, which ties the White Sox's Adam Dunn for tops in the majors.
The Rangers have won five of eight encounters with the Tigers this season.