Texas third baseman Ezequiel Duran continued his hot start to his major league career with a big hit on Thursday. He’ll look to keep the good times rolling on Friday as the visiting Rangers play the second game of a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

Duran ripped a three-run triple off Tigers closer Gregory Soto with two out in the ninth in the series opener to give the Rangers a 3-1 victory.

He has two home runs, eight RBIs and a .319 batting average in 12 games since being elevated from Double-A Frisco on June 4.

“I’m not surprised,” Duran said through an interpreter, according to MLB.com. “I’ve been working my entire life for this. It’s all I ever wanted to do, and I’m super content and thankful for the opportunity the organization has given me. I’ve always worked so hard, so I’m just happy to be here.”

Tarik Skubal (5-3, 2.71 ERA) will pitch the second game of the series for Detroit. In his latest start, Skubal was taken out after giving up four runs in the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday.

“I didn’t do my job; that’s as simple as it gets,” Skubal said. “I didn’t do a good job of putting our team in a position to win a ballgame and a series against a good club. That’s on me.”

Skubal had gone seven innings in each of his previous three starts. He allowed just one run in six innings in his lone career start against Texas, on July 20, 2021.

Jon Gray, who will start for the Rangers on Friday, has delivered two overpowering performances in his three June starts.

The right-hander struck out 12 Tampa Bay batters on June 1 while holding the Rays to one run on three hits in seven innings. After giving up five runs in five innings at Cleveland on June 7, Gray struck out 10 White Sox hitters and held Chicago to one run on three hits in six innings on Sunday.

“I felt pretty well. I came out with a pretty good mix and we kept them off balance,” he said after the Chicago game. “I started to get a better feel as the day went on.”

Gray (1-3, 4.85) didn’t get a win in any of those outings. Texas wound up beating the White Sox in 12 innings.

“It was exactly what we were looking for. Honestly, we needed him to go at least six,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We knew we were pretty short (in the bullpen), but for him to go six innings like that was big.”

In his 162-game career, Gray has never faced the Tigers.

Detroit has lost five straight, all at home. A players-only meeting on Wednesday failed to heat up the team’s bats, as the Tigers’ only run on Thursday was produced by a sacrifice fly.

Five of the players in Thursday’s starting lineup were batting under .200.

Even so, one run was nearly enough until Soto couldn’t close out a stellar performance from starter Beau Brieske, who fired seven scoreless innings.

“(Soto) didn’t locate pitches,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “Obviously, he lives on the edge sometimes. Tonight was too much. A little bend until you break, and when you break and the kid gets his first extra-base hit against a lefty, it’s a gut punch.”

–Field Level Media