Max Scherzer will put his unbeaten record on the line Monday when the Detroit Tigers close out a four-game series against the AL Central-rival Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Scherzer has been outstanding this season as evidenced by his 13-0 mark and 3.09 earned run average through 17 starts and is looking to match Roger Clemens' 14-0 opening to the 1986 season. Scherzer has won his last six starts and tossed 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in Wednesday's 6-2 win at Toronto. He struck out eight batters and has fanned at least six in each of his starts, a streak second to Pedro Martinez's 29-game run in 2000.
The right-hander has 18 gone straight starts without suffering a loss dating back to last season and his previous loss occurred on Sept. 23, 2012. Scherzer also matched Bobo Newsom's franchise record of 18 consecutive starts without suffering a loss from April 25-July 17, 1940.
Scherzer has won both of his meetings with the Indians this season and is 7-4 with a 4.76 earned run average in 13 career starts against them. He also owns a 5-0 mark in eight road assignments.
Detroit is hoping Scherzer can pitch the club to a series win and is coming off Sunday's 9-6 loss to the Tribe. A three-run bottom of the eighth inning propelled Cleveland to victory and Al Alburquerque was pinned with the loss, as he allowed the three runs in the decisive frame.
Tigers starter Doug Fister avoided a decision and was pelted for six runs and six hits, including three homers, in six innings. Tigers manager Jim Leyland was asked about his team after it failed to keep a five-game winning streak intact and battled back from a 6-1 hole.
"We're fine," Leyland said. "We let one get away today for two reasons: We walked people and didn't keep the ball in the ballpark. You're not going to win when you do that. But what an effort to come back like that. I mean, I've got no complaints."
Torii Hunter homered and rove in four runs and Miguel Cabrera finished 4-for-4 with a homer and two RBI for the Tigers, who are 6-4 on an 11-game road trip and will play six straight at home starting Tuesday versus the White Sox. Cabrera has four homers and 10 RBI in five games at Progressive Field this season.
Cleveland will try to cut into Detroit's lead atop the AL Central and pulled within 2 1/2 games of the top spot with its latest victory, which put an end to a four-game losing streak.
The Indians are 1-2 so far on their 10-game homestand and collected four homers on Sunday, two of which came off the bat of Michael Brantley, who posted three hits, three runs scored and five RBI. Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall had a home run apiece for the Indians.
"I felt like we were loose, there wasn't any pressure put on us, and that's when we're at our best when we just go out there and play our type of game," Indians outfielder Nick Swisher said. "It also helps having Brantley go deep a couple times, too."
Indians starter Corey Kluber had 10 strikeouts and allowed two runs on five hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings for the no-decision. Cody Allen got the final out of the 10th inning for the win and Chris Perez tossed a scoreless 11th for his ninth save.
Scott Kazmir draws the start for the Tribe Monday and has recorded back-to- back no-decisions. In Wednesday's 6-5 loss at Kansas City, the Royals were able to squeeze out three runs and six hits in the five innings Kazmir was on the mound. The left-hander, who is 4-4 in 14 starts with a 4.86 ERA, is 1-0 in his past three outings, allowing four runs in that time.
Kazmir is 4-0 in six home starts and 4-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 11 career starts against the Tigers.
The Indians are 3-8 against the Tigers this season.