Max Scherzer tries to become the first 18-game winner in the majors as he leads the Detroit Tigers against the Kansas City Royals in the final matchup of a five-game set at Comerica Park.
Scherzer took a no-decision after giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits over six innings against the White Sox on Tuesday. The 29-year-old right- hander hopes to become the fifth pitcher since 1912 to go 18-1 or better. He is 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA with 17 strikeouts in three games this month.
"He wasn't at his best, it's not a secret, but the fact is he made some good pitches," Tigers catcher Brayan Pena said after Scherzer's no-decision in the extra-inning loss to Chicago. "Max, he's Max. Everybody knows we're not perfect. We're human. But the fact that today wasn't his best day and he kept us in the ballgame, that says a lot about the guy."
Miguel Cabrera's 39th home run of the season was a walk-off in Detroit's 6-5 victory on Saturday. He finished the contest with two hits and two RBI. He has hit safely in 14 out his 15 games this month. The defending Triple Crown winner is leading all players in batting average (.358) and RBI (117), but trails Baltimore's Chris Davis by five on the home run leaderboard.
"I'm totally amazed what I'm seeing, because I can't believe what I'm seeing, to be honest with you," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "You just want to make sure when you see it every day that you just don't take it for granted."
Pena is batting .429 with a pair of doubles, a homer and three RBI in his last 10 games.
The Royals have a legitimate chance of frustrating Detroit's offense and denying Scherzer his 18th win with Bruce Chen on the mound. The 36-year-old southpaw took a no-decision after lasting seven shutout innings against Miami on Tuesday. Chen pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings versus Boston in his previous start and has a 0.93 ERA since entering the rotation.
"I don't want to think too much about what I've been doing," Chen said. "I'm feeling good. I feel like sometimes when your team is playing well, you take your game to the next level. I'm feeling good and I just want to help this team in any way I can to help this team win."
Kansas City will be without infielder Miguel Tejada for 105 games due to his second positive test for amphetamines. The 39-year-old has been on the disabled list since August 11 and is reportedly considering retirement.
The Royals had a great all-around offensive showing in Saturday's setback, with every batter that had multiple at-bats recording at least one hit. Salvador Perez went 2-for-4 and belted his fifth homer of the season. Chris Getz has recorded a multi-hit game three times in this series already.
There are still some cold spots in the lineup and the team went just 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position, which led to 12 being left on base. Third baseman Jamey Carroll has gone 0-for-10 since being acquired from Minnesota last week. Shortstop Alcides Escobar is 2-for-20 with four strikeouts over the past five games.
The Royals enter Sunday trailing the Tigers by 7 1/2 games for first place in the AL Central and are a 1 1/2 games behind the second-place Indians.