The Detroit Tigers might be making the rest of the AL Central’s decisions on whether to be sellers at the trade deadline a bit more difficult than a week ago.
On the verge of matching their longest losing streak of the season, the Tigers will try to slow down one of those clubs, the Chicago White Sox, Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
Chicago (52-55), winner of four of five, has made up three games in five days thanks to Detroit’s four-game skid. The White Sox are now one of three teams within seven games of the division leader.
Jose Abreu has had plenty to do with the recent success. His 3-for-4 night with a home run – his MLB-best 31st – and four RBIs in the series opener gave the rookie sensation his second 18-game hitting streak, making him the second player in club history to accomplish the feat in one season along with Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, who had runs of 21 and 22 games in 1920.
"It’s a very mature approach, and I know I’ve said that before, but it’s true," manager Robin Ventura said. "He comes here and he gets it right away."
The slugger is batting .356 while hitting safely in 36 of 37 and .392 on the most recent run. One player in baseball has been better in that time: teammate Conor Gillaspie (.393), who also had three hits Tuesday.
Furthering those numbers will be difficult with Max Scherzer taking the ball for Detroit (57-46).
Scherzer (12-3, 3.37 ERA) has been outstanding lately, going 4-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 40 2-3 innings over six outings. He fanned 11 over seven innings while surrendering three runs and six hits in Thursday’s 6-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
In his previous start, he matched a season low with four strikeouts, and he credited an adjustment to his changeup for correcting that.
"I felt good with everything tonight and had all four pitches going," Scherzer said. "I hadn’t been getting the swings and misses I had been searching for with that pitch, so I made a little adjustment with my grip. Tonight I felt like I had a lot more consistency with it and a lot more downward action."
No adjustments entering a matchup with Chicago will be necessary. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts against the AL Central foe this season, including a three-hit shutout June 12. He’s won four straight starts against the White Sox and is 6-1 with a 1.75 ERA in 10 home outings.
Dayan Viciedo is the only Chicago player with any sustained success against him, going 9 for 29 with two home runs, a triple and three doubles. Gillaspie is 3 for 13 with a homer and a double while Abreu is 1 for 10 against the reigning AL Cy Young winner.
Scherzer opposes Hector Noesi, who seeks a career-best third straight winning start. Noesi (5-7, 4.99) pitched a season-best 7 2-3 innings in Thursday’s 5-2 victory in Minnesota, allowing two runs and three hits.
The club claimed Noesi off waivers from Texas at the end of April.
"The strides he’s made are impressive from when we got him to what he’s doing now where he’s at," Ventura said. "To be able to go out and give you this it’s definitely steps in the right direction."
The right-hander, though, is 1-1 with a 7.53 ERA in three career starts against Detroit. Miguel Cabrera is 4 for 8 with two homers in the matchup, but Ian Kinsler is 2 for 13.
Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez left Tuesday’s game in the fourth inning with lower back tightness. Third baseman Nick Castellanos was scratched with an injured right index finger after being hit with a groundball during batting practice. Both are day to day.