Doug Fister and Justin Grimm will look to break out of their respective slumps in their final first-half starts Friday at Comerica Park.
Fister has allowed six runs in as many innings in each of his last two outings. He gave up four runs in the first innings of both no-decisions, lifting his ERA from 3.50 to 4.07. Fister gave up two of his season-high three walks with two outs in the first Sunday against the Indians, which started the four-run inning.
"You can defend against a guy putting it in play, but it's tough to defend against a walk," catcher Alex Avila said. "It is uncharacteristic. He was a little off. I have no worries about Doug getting back and having a good start his next time out."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland felt Fister might've been a little too careful against the middle of the Indians' lineup. It won't get any easier against All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre in the heart of the Rangers' order. Cruz is hitting .309 with two home runs and seven RBIs in July, while Beltre is a sizzling .500 this month with six home runs and 11 RBIs.
"I got a little bit into the nibbling on the corners and walked a couple guys, which kind of started the ball rolling," Fister said. "I've got to fix that. I can't do that. I have to attack guys like I've done in the past."
Grimm has pitched just four innings in his past two starts. He hasn't had a quality start in his last seven outings, dating back to May 30 against the D-backs. He fell victim to a big inning in nearly every game during that stretch, and he is 2-3 with a 9.00 ERA in those starts, allowing 10 home runs.
He'll somehow have to avoid allowing the long ball against one of the best lineups in the American League. The Tigers hit two home runs Thursday, including Miguel Cabrera's 30th this season, to lead the Majors with 18 home runs in July. They also lead the Majors this month in runs and RBIs.
"They're a great team and we've got to deal with their three best pitchers," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "That should make for an interesting weekend. And I get to see Miguel Cabrera for three days, Prince Fielder for three days. I've got to deal with Torii Hunter for three days.
"Can we go home for the break and just forfeit those games?"
Cabrera has the highest batting average (.384) against the Rangers among an active opponent with at least 50 at-bats. Last year's American League Triple Crown winner also has the third-highest slugging percentage (.642) and third-highest on-base percentage (.433) among an active opponent against the Rangers. Cabrera has 12 home runs and 60 RBIs in 56 games against Texas.
"He's on pace to have 200 RBIs and 90 home runs; if he does that, it's Little League," Washington said, with a little exaggeration. "You just hope when he puts a swing on a pitch, someone is there to catch it. But you don't get off easy with Prince. I try to pitch around Cabrera and you see what happens ... double, home run, because he goes out of the zone to get it. If you execute on Prince, you might get lucky. You can't get lucky on Cabrera. I said you 'might' get lucky on Prince."
Tigers: Porcello begins suspension
Rick Porcello began a five-game suspension Thursday after making his final first-half start Wednesday against the White Sox. He had his suspension reduced from six days for hitting Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist on his right shoulder in the first inning of a June 30 start, a day after Fernando Rodney threw a pitch up and in on Cabrera.
Rangers: Font, Ortiz replace Lindblom, Darvish
The Rangers recalled pitchers Joseph Ortiz and Wilmer Font on Thursday to bolster their bullpen before the All-Star Break. The club optioned Josh Lindblom to Triple-A Round Rock after he pitched Wednesday. He replaced Yu Darvish in the rotation, who went on the disabled list Tuesday with a strained trapezius muscle in his right shoulder.
Darvish plans to attend the All-Star Game, but he will not be able to pitch. He's eligible to come off the disabled list July 22.
• Justin Grimm is 1-1 with a 9.39 ERA in two career starts against the Tigers. The current Detroit roster has a .364 (12-of-33) batting average against Grimm. Doug Fister is 2-4 with a 6.00 ERA in eight career starts. Current Rangers are hitting .301 (44-of-146) against him.
• The Rangers have won seven of the last nine meetings against the Tigers, but they're just 7-15 in the regular season at Comerica Park since the start of 2008.
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.