Fresh off earning the win in this week's All-Star game, Max Scherzer is ready to continue his recent dominance for the Detroit Tigers.
The right-hander tries for a fifth straight strong start Saturday in the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader against the visiting Cleveland Indians.
Scherzer (11-3, 3.35 ERA) allowed 10 runs in four innings of an 11-4 home loss to Kansas City on June 17, then went 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA - striking out 35 in 28 innings - over his next four. He gave up a homer and three other hits in seven innings of a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 9.
''I like where I'm at,'' said Scherzer, who struck out two of the four batters he faced during an inning of work in the AL's 5-3 All-Star victory Tuesday.
"At this point in time, I feel like I'm a better pitcher than I was in April.''
Though Scherzer has a 3.76 ERA in his last eight starts versus Cleveland (48-47), with the last five on the road, he's 5-0 during that span. He gave up seven runs and 12 hits in seven innings of an 11-10, 13-inning loss to the Indians on May 21, then allowed a run and struck out eight in six innings of a 10-4 victory June 22.
Cleveland will call up Zach McAllister (3-5, 5.63) to oppose Scherzer in the nightcap. The right-hander is 0-5 with an 8.22 ERA in his last seven starts.
He allowed two of his three runs on a homer over seven innings of a 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox last Saturday, his first outing since going on the DL on May 22 due to a back strain. One day earlier, he gave up five runs and lasted just two innings in an 11-10 win over the Tigers (53-39).
McAllister held Detroit to a run over six innings in a 3-2 win at Comerica Park on April 16.
Before Scherzer and McAllister take the mound, Cleveland will try to record a season-high fourth consecutive road win after Friday's 9-3 victory. Jason Kipnis homered twice, including a three-run shot that highlighted a seven-run seventh for the Indians, who have won nine of 13 and are tied for second in the AL Central, 6 1/2 games behind the Tigers.
Kipnis had not homered in his previous 49 games.
''I haven't even done it (in) BP I feel like for two months,'' said Kipnis, who is batting .319 in his last 11 games.
He's 5 for 27 with nine strikeouts against Scherzer.
Teammate Nick Swisher is 6 for 17 with five RBIs in the last four games, and is 6 for his last 15 with two doubles and a triple against Scherzer.
Cleveland's Corey Kluber (9-6, 3.01) will try to win his third straight start in Game 1. The right-hander was 2-2 with a 1.57 ERA in five starts before he gave up four runs in six innings of a 7-4 win over the White Sox last Friday.
Kluber allowed eight runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 10-4 loss in his most recent outing at Comerica on May 10, 2013. Though he's 0-2 in five starts since then against the Tigers - all at home - he's posted a 2.65 ERA.
Detroit will call up Drew VerHagen from Triple-A Toledo to make his major league debut in the opener.
"I was just obviously thrilled at the opportunity (to get called up), just really happy," VerHagen told MLB's official website.
The right-hander was 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA in his last five starts for the Mud Hens.
Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are a combined 20 for 41 with five home runs against Kluber.
Batting .353 in his last 18 games, Martinez is 8 for 13 with three doubles and a home run versus McAllister.
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