If the recent form of Max Scherzer and Chris Archer is any indication, the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays could be in for a low-scoring affair in the opener of a three-game series.
The right-handers square off Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, and in addition to noteworthy efforts in their last starts, both pitchers were dominant in outings during last month’s series in Detroit.
Scherzer (14-4, 2.98 ERA), who can become the first AL pitcher to 15 wins, has gone 6-1 with a 1.78 ERA in 10 starts since June 22. In that time, only Corey Kluber, Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester have posted better ERAs in the AL.
His last start was his best in that period as he threw eight scoreless innings, allowed three hits and struck out a season-high 14 to win 5-2 over Pittsburgh on Thursday. Scherzer had eight strikeouts through four innings, which had him eyeing big numbers.
”I was thinking about it, but not for the reason you probably think,” he said. ”When I’m getting that many strikeouts early, it means I’m throwing all four of my pitches, I’m getting hitters into the kill-zone counts and I’m putting them away. When that’s happening, I know I’m probably going to have a good day.”
He was about as effective July 3 against Tampa Bay, surrendering a run and two hits while striking out seven in eight innings of an 8-1 win. It was Scherzer’s fourth straight victory over the Rays and gave him a 2.25 ERA against them.
Ben Zobrist (2 for 18), Matt Joyce (2 for 17), Desmond Jennings (2 for 15) and Evan Longoria (2 for 14) have struggled against him. Yunel Escobar is 11 for 30 in the matchup.
Archer (8-6, 3.24) is also coming off a dominant effort in Wednesday’s 10-1 win in Texas. He earned the decision while allowing a run and four hits and striking out a career-high 12 in seven innings.