While both teams are once again favored to reach October, an early-season meeting is bound to provide plenty of excitement, said Rangers infielder Michael Young.
"It will be a fun series," said Young. "They've got a great team. They had a great team before Prince Fielder. They are even better now. The ALCS, it was a great series. Over a long series, one thing that happens is you respect how good the other team is. That whole series, we knew how good Detroit was. They're a great team. We saw it last season."
The biggest addition during the Rangers' offseason, Yu Darvish, will get his first look at arguably the AL's best lineup. The right-hander has yet to go a full six innings in either of his starts, but Darvish (1-0, 4.76 ERA) comes off a positive outing in which he held the Twins to two runs (one earned) over 5 2/3 innings. Rangers manager Ron Washington acknowledged Darvish has a challenge ahead of him.
"They're a very good club," Washington said. "They've got pitching and they've added Fielder to the lineup. They got [Brennan] Boesch back, which makes them even more dangerous. They have a potent lineup. They can play."
A fellow new face will be sharing the mound with Darvish, as Adam Wilk makes his second Major League start and seventh big league appearance. Wilk (0-1, 3.60 ERA) allowed two earned runs over five innings against the White Sox on Saturday.
Originally, there had been some concern that Wilk would not be available for Thursday's series opener after he was removed from his previous outing when he was struck by a foul ball while in the dugout. A line drive off Fielder's bat resulted in a bruised right shoulder, but the right-hander showed no lasting ill-effects.
"It was disappointing," Wilk said following the injury. "I'd like to keep going out there and try to keep the team in the game where it was, just try to give them an opportunity to come out. But we might as well just be safe at this point. Getting hit in your throwing shoulder isn't always a good thing."
Rangers: Cruz breaks out of his slump
Nelson Cruz suffered through an 0-for-12 stretch over a four-game period from April 10-13. However, the slugger has turned a corner over the last four games, going 7-for-18 with one home run, two RBIs, five runs scored and three doubles. Cruz's average had dipped as low as .138 prior to his outburst. Cruz hit .314 (11-for-35) with three home runs and nine RBIs against the Tigers last season.
Young could return to the lineup Thursday after sitting out Wednesday due to lower back stiffness.
Tigers: Jackson setting the table
Despite an 0-for-4 night on Wednesday, Austin Jackson's hot start has set the table for the Tigers' potent lineup. Jackson is hitting .333 (15-for-45) with two home runs, three doubles and four RBIs. The center fielder's start is a stark contrast to 2011, when Jackson opened the year with a .178 average in April. Jackson tallied just 18 hits in 101 April at-bats last season.
The Rangers were 3-6 against the Tigers in 2011 -- with four losses decided by one run -- and 5-16 since the start of the 2007 season.
The Rangers began the season 9-2 for the second straight season -- the second-best start in franchise history, only surpassed by their 10-1 start in 1989.
Tigers starting pitchers own a 2.74 ERA (18 earned runs in 59 innings pitched) over their last nine games since April 10.