In the last month, Max Scherzer has often pitched like the Cy Young Award winner he’s become.
Over the past seven weeks, Garrett Richards has been even better for the Los Angeles Angels.
Both right-handers will try for a 12th victory Thursday night (10:05 p.m. with Tigers Live beginning at 9 p.m.) when the AL Central-leading Tigers look to avoid a seventh consecutive loss in Anaheim.
Though Scherzer (11-3, 3.34 ERA) is 3-0 with a 1.87 ERA in his last five starts, Richards (11-2, 2.47) is 7-0 with a 1.25 ERA in his last nine.
"Richards has been throwing the ball really well this year, so I have to bring my ‘A’ game," Scherzer told MLB’s official website. "There’s no other way around it."
Richards will oppose a staff ace for the second straight start after allowing one run and three hits in eight innings to outlast Seattle’s Felix Hernandez in a 3-2, 12-inning loss Saturday.
"I treat it like it’s just another game," said Richards, who is 4-0 with a 1.90 ERA in his last six home starts. "I try to take the name and player out of the equation."
Richards has looked dominant while allowing five hits over 14 scoreless innings to win his previous two starts against the Tigers (56-42) over the past two seasons.
Scherzer, 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in his last three road starts, is 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA in five overall against the Angels (60-40).
The only one at Anaheim came in 2012, when he gave up two runs and struck out nine in eight innings while not factoring in the decision of a 3-2 defeat. Scherzer yielded a solo homer and two other hits while striking out nine in seven innings of a 5-2 win over Los Angeles on April 19.
Scherzer appears healthy enough to take the mound after he overcame neck spasms to battle through 5 2-3 innings in Detroit’s 5-2 loss to Cleveland on Saturday.
"There’s no excuses on ailments," said Scherzer, who gave up a pair of solo homers and walked four. "I go out there and I give you everything I’ve got."
He will try to help the Tigers snap a six-game skid in Anaheim during which they’ve been outscored 34-9.
Miguel Cabrera went 1 for 11 while Detroit took two of three at home from the Angels in April, but has hit .429 since the All-Star break. Cabrera belted a three-run homer in Wednesday’s 11-5 win at Arizona.
Teammate Austin Jackson is batting .431 with eight doubles and seven RBIs in his last 12 games, but is 1 for 10 against Richards.
Angels star Mike Trout is 3 for 13 with a double, home run and eight strikeouts against Scherzer.
Trout is hitting .356 with four homers, five doubles and 12 RBIs over his last 10 games, and was on base three times Wednesday as Los Angeles avoided being swept by Baltimore with a 3-2 victory – its major league-leading 31st come-from-behind win.
Detroit bolstered the back end of a bullpen that ranks 26th in the majors with a 4.37 ERA by acquiring Joakim Soria from Texas for a pair of prospects Wednesday. The right-hander converted 17 of 19 save chances and had a 2.70 ERA in 35 games for the Rangers.
Soria joins current Tigers closer Joe Nathan, whom he replaced in Texas this season.
"I just want to help them win the World Series," Soria said. "That’s what it’s all about, and I hope I can help out as much as I can."