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On Deck: Tigers

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On Deck: Tigers

NBC 5 News

On Deck will be here all season to provide you with everything you need to know (and a few things you don't) about every Rangers series during the 2014 season. 

The Opponent: The Tigers were in bad shape — really bad shape. They'd watched the Kansas City Royals pass them in the AL Central, a division they were supposed to run away with. Now, after winning four straight, they're back in front and playing good baseball again after a sweep of Cleveland.

Past 2014 Meetings: The Rangers traveled to Detroit at the end of May for a four-game set and took three of them — all of them in dominant fashion.

Pitching Matchups: Tuesday — Colby Lewis (5-4, 5.97 ERA) vs. Drew Smyly (3-6, 3.48); Wednesday — Nick Tepesch (2-3, 4.38) vs. Anibal Sanchez (4-2, 2.33); Thursday — TBD vs. Rick Porcello (9-4, 3.76).

What's Hot: Elvis Andrus has remained hot over the past week, leading the team with a .375 average in his last six games. Leonys Martin has thrived in the leadoff spot since moving there in the majority of games last week. He's hitting .353 with two stolen bases in his last six games. Granted, they haven't been in high-leverage situations, but recent call-up Ben Rowen has accounted well for himself with 4 1/3 scoreless innings over his two appearances.

J.D. Martinez is absolutely raking right now to the tune of a .444 average, four homers and 11 RBIs in the last seven games. And everyone's favorite former Ranger isn't far behind him. Ian Kinsler is hitting .357 with two homers and four RBIs in that same span. Sanchez and Smyly are both coming off good starts and each went seven innings their last time out.

What's Not: Jason Frasor, the once-solid late-inning reliever, has struggled in the last week. He's appeared in three games, gotten just two outs and has allowed two runs on four hits, including Saturday night's walk-off hit to Howie Kendrick in the 10th inning. Shin-Soo Choo's slump is now an extended one. He's hitting just .155 over the last month and has 21 strikeouts compared to just 15 walks in his last 30 games.

Denton native Austin Jackson is coming home on a cold streak, as he's hit just .217 in his last six games.

Familiar Faces: Of course, the eyes of everyone are going to be on Ian Kinsler, who spent his entire career prior to this season as a member of the Rangers organization and was a core piece of the team's success over the past four seasons. Prince Fielder hasn't made his way back to the dugout yet after neck surgery, and it's doubtful he'll start this week against his former team. Joe Nathan left Texas after two fantastic years as the Rangers' closer and is now struggling mightily in the same role with the Tigers. He's blown five saves this year and is sporting a god-awful 6.18 ERA.

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