Max Scherzer puts his unblemished record on the line Thursday when the Detroit Tigers wrap up a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park.
Scherzer has been magnificent for the Tigers this season, going 7-0 with a 3.42 ERA, and his 91 strikeouts are among the league leaders. He's trying to become first Tigers starter to go 8-0 since Jeremy Bonderman in 2007.
However, he did not get a decision on Friday in Baltimore, as the right-hander gave up three runs and three hits and fanned 10 over eight innings of his team's 7-5 loss. Scherzer retired the final 16 batters he faced and left with the lead only to see the bullpen cough it up.
"You can't ask for anything more than he had, particularly in a ballpark like this with the power that they've got," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Scherzer. "He was terrific."
Scherzer has faced the Rays four times and is 1-2 with a 3.04 ERA.
Getting the call for the Rays on Thursday will be righty Roberto Hernandez, who is 3-5 with a 4.87 ERA. Hernandez produced his best start of the season last Wednesday in Miami, as he held to Marlins to just an unearned run and three hits in 8 1/3 frames. He also struck out five batters without issuing a walk.
"He threw all his pitches for strikes in the zone and keep them off balance," catcher Jose Molina said. "That's what you want in a pitcher."
Hernandez is 8-6 lifetime versus the Tigers with a 4.03 ERA in 20 games (17 starts).
On Wednesday, Matt Joyce broke a scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning, and Tampa Bay added two more runs to escape with a 3-0 victory.
Alex Cobb and Doug Fister, two of the AL's top ground ball pitchers, matched zeroes until the Rays finally broke through in the ninth.
Cobb was stellar over 7 2/3 innings, allowing just five hits and three walks while fanning seven. He did not factor in the decision after being pulled with two on in the eighth for Joel Peralta (1-2), who struck out Prince Fielder to keep the game tied.
"(Cobb) was terrific," Leyland said of the opposing starter. "He was really good."
Fister (5-3) was cruising to that point as well, needing just 92 pitches to get through eight innings before faltering in the last frame.
Detroit beat the Rays in five of the seven meetings last season and is 13-4 in the last 17 matchups.