DETROIT – For the first time this season, the Rangers and Detroit Tigers will square off against each other. The teams play four games in Comerica Park. A few things to watch:
* Ian Kinsler in a Tigers uniform. The leadoff hitter is having a good year, playing for a team other than the Rangers for the first time in his career. He said some controversial things before the season began, but has gone about his business and helped the Tigers to the best record in the AL. How will he fare against his former team? That’s something to watch.
* Will Prince Fielder play? The slugger did not play Wednesday and did not travel with the team to Detroit so that he could be examined again by spine specialist Dr. Drew Dossett. If that exam goes well and Fielder feels ready to return, he could join his teammates in Detroit. Fielder received a nerve-root injection Saturday morning and hasn’t played in four straight games. He won’t play Thursday, which will make it five.
* Quality starts? Nick Tepesch provided the Rangers their fourth quality start in the last 21 games and the first by someone not named Yu Darvish since late April. Can someone other than Darvish get quality starts in this series against the Tigers? The revamped rotation gets its chance as Nick Martinez and Scott Baker will get starts during the series. This club needs more from its starters, especially with the offense struggling to string hits together.
* Darvish. Whenever he’s on the mound, you better pay attention. You never know when he might flirt with something special. He is 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers. He gave up two runs in eight innings in a 2-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday. Torii Hunter has faced Darvish more than any other Tigers hitter and is 6-for-21 (.286) with one homer and six RBIs and eight strikeouts. Miguel Cabrera is 3-for-12.
* Watch how the Rangers handle Cabrera. He is one of the most feared hitters in the league and manager Ron Washington has a ton of respect for him. He’s been intentionally walked plenty in his dealings with Texas. Cabrera is hitting .323 with seven homers and 39 RBIs.
* Homers. Victor Martinez leads the Tigers with 12 home runs, and the team has five players with at least four home runs. The Rangers have two – Adrian Beltre and Shin-Soo Choo. Choo hit his fifth homer of the season Wednesday to take the team lead. Martinez has been a huge offensive contributor for the Tigers, batting .323 and knocking in 26 RBIs, giving pitchers more than just Cabrera to think about.
* Sweep. The Tigers were swept in Cleveland as Al Alburquerque balked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 13th inning. Joe Nathan blew a save chance, giving up a two-run homer to his former Ranger teammate David Murphy. And even after the Tigers got a one-run lead in the 13th, they couldn't hold it.