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Rangers-Tigers Preview

Rangers-Tigers Preview
The Texas Rangers are off to their best start in 13 years, when they won the first of the only three division titles in franchise history.

They hope Kris Benson, who hasn't pitched in the majors for more than 2 1/2 years, can help them remain the AL's only unbeaten team Friday night when they open a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers.

The Rangers (3-0) are coming off Thursday's 12-8 win over Cleveland, completing a series sweep. Texas last opened with three consecutive wins in 1996 when it started 7-0 and went on to win the AL West, something it has not accomplished since 1999.

The Rangers, who join Florida as the only teams yet to lose in 2009, swept a series only once last season - at Kansas City in August.

"You couldn't be more excited right now coming off this first series, playing with energy and passion," Rangers right-hander Brandon McCarthy said after earning a win Thursday. "The team chemistry in here is second to none, and right now it's a special team to be part of."

Texas now gives the ball to Benson, who hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since Sept. 27, 2006, with Baltimore.

The Rangers signed the oft-injured Benson to a minor-league contract in the hopes that he could add some depth to the rotation.

The right-hander, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1996 draft by Pittsburgh, missed 2007 after having surgery to repair a torn right rotator cuff. He went 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA in 11 starts last year for Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate, before the Phillies released him Aug. 30.

Benson has a career record of 68-73 with a 4.34 ERA in 195 games over eight seasons with the Pirates, Orioles and New York Mets.

"I paid my dues last year," Benson said. "I have nothing in the back of my mind that says I'm going to go to the minor leagues. I just want to get to the big leagues and back to the way I was before the surgery.

"It's been so long since my shoulder has been feeling this good. I've put in a lot of hard work the last two years just to get to this point, especially over the last three months leading up to spring training."

Benson proved his shoulder could hold up through five spring training games, going 2-0 with a 4.76 ERA to win a spot in the rotation.

"He's a veteran pitcher," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's had some success. We're going to take a chance on him, put him in the mix and see what happens. He's healthy and ready to go."

Benson's last win came against the Tigers (1-3) on Sept. 21, 2006, when he allowed three runs and eight hits in eight innings of a 4-3 victory. He's 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA in three career starts against them.

Texas, though, went 3-6 against Detroit last season, and has dropped five in a row at Comerica Park since winning there on Sept. 11, 2007.

The Tigers turn to Armando Galarraga (13-7, 3.73 ERA) in their home opener, as they attempt to rebound from Thursday's 6-2 defeat at Toronto.

Galarraga emerged as Detroit's most reliable starter last season as a rookie following his acquisition from Texas in February 2008. The right-hander led the Tigers in wins while posting the lowest ERA of any member of the rotation.

He also won his only start against his former club on Aug. 19, giving up three runs and six hits with five strikeouts in six innings of an 11-3 victory.

Brandon Inge went 0-for-3 with a walk Thursday after going 4-for-11 with three homers and four RBIs in the first three games. The third baseman went 3-for-9 with a homer and three RBIs in three home games against Texas last year.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 10, 2009

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