Max Scherzer will try to become the first Detroit pitcher to start a season 8-0 since Jeremy Bonderman in 2007, as his Tigers step into Camden Yards on Friday to open a three-game set with the Baltimore Orioles.
Scherzer has yielded only two runs and five hits over his last two starts (14 innings) against Cleveland and Minnesota. In fact, he went 38 batters between hits at one stretch during those two outings.
"The way he's pitched, that's really impressive," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "Especially against Cleveland's lineup, with the guys that they have here in the middle of the (Twins') lineup, that's not an easy feat. That just shows what kind of stuff he has.
"When he's able to locate, he's going to be almost untouchable. He can get away with mistakes because his stuff's so good."
Meanwhile, Baltimore will turn to right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who has looked sharp in two starts since returning from a blister on his throwing hand that cost him nearly three weeks. After holding the Yankees to two earned runs in seven innings on May 21, the right-hander limited the Blue Jays to one earned run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings of work this past Sunday. He has struck out 12 and walked only three over those last two outings.
"Having that rest helped me out a little bit," Gonzalez said. "Last year, they pushed me back a couple times, and working with (pitching coach) Rick Adair in the bullpen and between starts helped me out pretty good."
Winners of seven of their last 10, the O's are coming off a two-game home sweep over the Washington Nationals. While they have been one of the American League's top hitting teams over the course of the season, on Thursday they rode eight shutout innings from starter Freddy Garcia to a 2-0 win.
This weekend's series pits the AL's top two Triple Crown leaders against one another. For Baltimore, Chris Davis is hitting .426 with 10 home runs, 20 RBI and nine doubles over his last 20 games after earning AL Player of the Month honors for April. He is hitting at a .545 clip (18-for-33) over his last eight games.
"Offensively (the Orioles) look very good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland observed. "They've got a lot of guys with good averages. (Davis) has been having a heck of a year."
Of course, Leyland has his own hot slugger in reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who continues to terrorize opposing pitchers. Cabrera is the current AL leader in batting average (.369) and RBI (59), while Davis holds the home run lead (19). Cabrera has 11 homers in the month of May.
The Tigers hope to avoid a fourth straight loss after being shutout in 11 innings by the Pirates on Thursday.
This marks the first meeting of the season between these two teams. They split six meetings in 2012.