Two clubs who finished just a few wins shy of a World Series berth will collide on Tuesday when the Los Angeles Dodgers begin interleague play against the Detroit Tigers at Dodger Stadium.
Both Detroit and Los Angeles fell in six games in last season's League Championship Series and both are determined to get further in 2014.
The Tigers will try to win for the fifth time in six games on Tuesday as reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer makes his second appearance on the mound this season.
Scherzer began his campaign with a great performance, holding Kansas City scoreless and to just four hits over eight innings last Wednesday. The 29-year old right-hander received a no-decision after closer Joe Nathan blew a save in the ninth inning, but Detroit managed to win in extra innings.
"I did a great job of pitching deep into a game," Scherzer said. "Eight innings in a first start is a great thing to do, especially with the game where it was. My thing is, I'm aggressive. I'm going to attack the zone. I respect all the hitters, and I really respect what they do over there, but I'm going to be aggressive right back at you."
The Tigers are coming off their first loss of the campaign as they fell, 3-1, to Baltimore at Comerica Park on Sunday. Torii Hunter belted his third home run of the season in the setback, giving Detroit a home run in the first five games to start the year for the first time since 2009.
Hunter began the season with zero hits in his first nine at-bats, but enters Tuesday's contest batting .300 with a three-game home run streak. Miguel Cabrera went just 1-for-4 in the loss, but is still tied for first on Detroit with Austin Jackson with a .350 batting average. The Tigers have tallied seven home runs compared to just one by their opposition in five games.
Even the fully loaded Tigers' lineup may struggle to produce against Los Angeles if Dan Haren picks up where he left off in his Dodgers' debut. Haren held the Padres to one unearned run in six innings with six strikeouts and no walks.
"I don't think it's velocity at this point," said manager Don Mattingly. "He just needs to be hard enough. I saw 88, 89. If he's 85, 86, everything is too close together. But he throws to both sides of the plate, he uses the cutter and goes down and sideways, he changes speed and depth. Danny can do it. I hope we get that kind of guy every time out."
Haren owns a 5-4 record with a 3.83 ERA in 75 1/3 innings versus the Tigers in his career.
Los Angeles avoided a three-game sweep on Sunday with a 6-2 victory over San Francisco. Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez each hit a pair of home runs in the contest, marking the inaugural two homers for each player of the season. Kemp just returned from the disabled list on Friday to deliver his first multi- homer game since 2012.
"We saw it early in batting practice in the spring. His BP was different," said Mattingly. "He had that high finish (again), and we saw the carry on the ball. It's good to be able to see him do that here, and in the big leagues."
Kemp is 0-for-16 versus Scherzer in his career.
Los Angeles is uncertain of the status of Yasiel Puig, who sat out Sunday due to a strained thumb ligament. He is listed as day-to-day.
Tuesday will mark the first road game for Detroit's manager Brad Ausmus, who finished his playing career with Los Angeles in 2010.