Kawakami will try again to end his lengthy losing streak Saturday when the Braves attempt to continue their dominance at Turner Field.
Atlanta (43-31) is 25-7 at home, winning 15 of 16 after beating Detroit 3-1 to open this three-game series Friday.
That success is a major reason the Braves lead the NL East by one-half game over the New York Mets.
Kawakami (0-9, 4.78) would like to add to that lead and get his first win since beating Florida on Aug. 31. Since then, the right-hander is 0-11 with a 4.45 ERA in 21 games - 14 starts - for the Braves’ longest slide since Jim Acker dropped 13 straight from Sept. 29, 1987-Aug. 16, 1989.
The Braves, however, have won four of Kawakami’s six starts at Turner Field, where he’s 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA.
His most recent outing came at home and was his shortest of the season, lasting two-plus innings after getting tagged for five runs and six hits before the Braves rallied for an 8-5 win over Kansas City on Sunday.
Kawakami’s time in the rotation may end with Jair Jurrjens(notes) expected to return from a strained left hamstring soon. Kawakami is competing with Kris Medlen(notes) - Friday’s winning starter - for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
“I haven’t really thought about it much,” Kawakami said through a translator. “But being a starter, I’m not really doing my job right now. I’m ready for whatever might be coming to me.”
The Tigers (39-33) trail AL Central-leading Minnesota by one-half game, and some improved play on the road could vault them into first.
Detroit has dropped 11 of 15 as the visitor since consecutive victories at Oakland from May 19-20. The staff held the A’s to three total runs in those wins, but has since compiled a 6.02 ERA on the road.
The right-hander has won consecutive starts and is 3-2 with a 3.48 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 31 innings in five games since returning from a stint with Triple-A Toledo to work on his mechanics.
Scherzer was impressive again Sunday, yielding one run and four hits while fanning eight in seven innings of a 3-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.
“It is hard, because there is still a learning curve for me,” Scherzer said. “(Sunday), I learned that I’ve got to throw my slider earlier in the game. Once I started doing that, it gave me three pitches that I could show hitters, and that allowed me to have more success.”
Scherzer is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA in five games - three starts - versus the Braves. He’s lost his last two starts against them with an 11.42 ERA.