W2W4: Detroit Tigers at Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's all about Yu Darvish versus Justin Verlander on Thursday.

But the matchup between the Rangers and Detroit Tigers also features two American League powerhouses. It should be an entertaining four-game series.

The Rangers have a seven-game lead in the AL West and the best record in the AL. The Tigers are a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central.

Here's what to watch for as these two titans clash in Arlington:

Failing to sweep Houston: The Tigers arrive in Texas following a missed opportunity: They didn't sweep the Astros at home. While Texas swept the Astros in Houston over the weekend, the Tigers couldn't finish their series off against baseball's worst team Thursday. Detroit lost 7-5 to Houston as Miguel Cabrera's near walk-off grand slam fell just short in the bottom of the ninth. Houston had scored two runs in the top of the ninth against the Tigers' bullpen to take the lead.

Getting started: The Tigers are getting great starting pitching. Detroit's rotation leads the AL with 19 wins, a 3.32 ERA, 252 strikeouts and 26 quality starts. It doesn't get any tougher in baseball than Verlander (4-3, 1.93 ERA), Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.68), Anibal Sanchez (4-3, 2.05) and Doug Fister (5-1, 3.06). And the Rangers are missing the Tigers' No. 2 starter, flamethrower Max Scherzer (5-0, 3.98).

Valverde is back: The Tigers struggled to find a closer early in the season, even turning to former Ranger Joaquin Benoit for a spell. They believe they've solved their issue by returning to old closer Jose Valverde. The 35-year-old missed all of spring training before re-signing with Detroit, so he's not in pitching shape just yet, Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters this week. Valverde has converted three of his four save opportunities and has a 1.29 ERA in seven games. It will be interesting to see how things go this time around with Valverde. He was already one the most erratic closers in the game, almost always pitching himself into trouble and getting out of it.

Out of the Anaheim mess: How happy are Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells right now? They're out of Anaheim, where the Angels are off to an abysmal start. Meanwhile, Wells has double-digit home runs with the Yankees and Hunter already has 15 multihit games for the Tigers and is batting .325. He is two home runs shy of 300 for his career. Hunter has been as good as any hitter in baseball against Darvish, with six hits in 18 at-bats, tying him with the Angels' Alberto Callaspo for the most career hits against him.

Versus the West: The Tigers are 10-6 against the AL West but haven't played the Rangers yet. That includes a 6-1 mark against the Astros. The Rangers are 3-4 against the AL Central, splitting a four-game road series at Minnesota and losing two of three to the White Sox in Arlington.