Tigers' AL Central lead on the line against Royals Tuesday
JUN 17, 2014 11:21a ET
Now they face a daunting task against another one as they attempt to gain the AL Central lead.
The Tigers have won Max Scherzer's last 13 overall home starts heading into Tuesday night's matchup with first place on the line.
Kansas City (37-32) scored seven times against struggling Justin Verlander in Monday's 11-8 victory in the opener of this four-game series. The Royals, who had been 0-5 against Detroit this year, are enjoying their longest win streak since a nine-game run July 23-Aug. 1.
The Royals have won 11 of 13 since trailing the Tigers (36-30) by 6 1/2 games at the start of the month to pull within one-half game of the division lead.
"We got on a nice little run here and we've made up some ground," manager Ned Yost said.
Winning Tuesday doesn't figure to be easy since Scherzer (8-2, 3.05 ERA) is 10-0 with a 2.38 ERA in his last 13 home outings, including one in the postseason.
The Tigers have also won Scherzer's last nine starts against the Royals, with the University of Missouri product going 5-0 with a 2.53 ERA. Detroit has captured 28 of his last 31 regular-season outings at Comerica Park.
While Alex Gordon is 7 for 18 (.389) with four extra-base hits against Scherzer since the start of 2012, most Royals regulars have struggled against him in that span. Lorenzo Cain is hitless in 12 at-bats, Eric Hosmer is 3 for 20 and Mike Moustakas 3 for 18 as the three have combined for 19 strikeouts.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner finally notched the first complete game of his career by striking out eight in a three-hitter Thursday in a 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. He has 106 strikeouts to rank sixth in baseball.
"It's awesome," he said. "I finally got the monkey off my back."
Scherzer's opponent will be Yordano Ventura (4-5, 3.20), who has posted consecutive wins for the first time. Ventura yielded one run over seven innings with no walks last Wednesday in a 4-1 victory over Cleveland.
"He had probably one of his best games of the year, command-wise, with his fastball," Yost told the Royals' official website.
The 23-year-old right-hander is known for a fastball that has been clocked over 100 mph heading into his first matchup with Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers.
Both teams lost a player to cramps Monday.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez was replaced in the seventh by Brett Hayes because of cramps in both calves but figures to be OK.
"He's fine," Yost said. "They made him drink a bunch of fluids and gave him an IV."
Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter left in the fourth with a cramp in his right hamstring. Hunter was replaced by J.D. Martinez, who hit his second career grand slam.
"It's not a strain," manager Brad Ausmus insisted.
Detroit slugger Victor Martinez is 14 for 32 during an eight-game hitting streak against Kansas City.