(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers hope to carry the momentum from a big weekend sweep into their next series, as they open a two-game set against the Detroit Tigers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
After losing five straight games, the Rangers have now won five in a row and took all three games in their series over the weekend with the New York Yankees, culminating with a 4-1 win on Sunday behind eight-plus solid innings from a returning Cliff Lee.
Lee (11-8) had been skipped a start to rest an ailing back after the former Cy Young winner pitched to an 8.28 earned run average over five winless outings. The rest did the veteran some good, as he held New York to one run on two hits and three walks.
"Cliff Lee was outstanding today," Rangers Manager Ron Washington said. "We did a lot of good things and deserved to win."
Texas now leads the American League West by eight games over the Oakland Athletics.
Hoping to get the Rangers one step closer to their first division crown since 1999 tonight will be left-hander Derek Holland, who is 3-3 with a 4.31 earned run average. Holland was terrific in beating the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday, as he scattered three hits over five scoreless innings. He also struck out eight batters in the win.
This will be his first ever start against the Tigers, who will counter with right-hander Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman won his second consecutive decision on Wednesday against Chicago, as he allowed a run and three hits in eight innings to run his record to 8-9 to go along with a 5.03 ERA.
Bonderman has faced the Rangers eight times and is 2-1 against them with a 5.32 ERA.
Detroit comes into tonight's opener after salvaging the finale of its three- game set with the Baltimore Orioles. On Sunday, Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run double in a five-run eighth, as the Tigers rallied for a 6-2 win at Comerica Park.
Justin Verlander (16-8) picked up the win after tossing eight solid innings. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed two runs on five hits, walked one and fanned 11 in throwing 122 pitches -- 84 for strikes. He is now 3-0 in his last five starts and improved to 11-3 at home in 15 starts this season.
"I thought Verlander had shutout stuff," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I thought all pitches worked as good as I've seen them all year. That was shutout stuff. He didn't get a shutout, but he easily could have."
Texas has won four of its seven matchups with the Tigers this season.