The Detroit Tigers’ first two starters in the AL division series are coming off brilliant late-season runs. It’s uncertain what kind of performance Max Scherzer(notes) will be following up when he makes his first postseason start in Game 3.
Scherzer takes the mound for the final time in the regular season Tuesday night against Jeanmar Gomez(notes), who looks to win his sixth straight start and snap the Cleveland Indians’ eight-game skid to the Central champs.
Justin Verlander(notes) and Doug Fister(notes) will start Games 1 and 2 of the Tigers’ first playoff series in five years. Verlander has gone 12-0 with a 2.59 ERA in his last 13 starts, while Fister is 7-0 with a 0.65 ERA in his last eight after throwing eight innings of three-hit ball in a 14-0 series-opening win Monday.
The two are a combined 14-0 with a 1.61 ERA since Aug. 16.
“I’ve never had anything like that before,” manager Jim Leyland said. “14-0? Never.”
With Detroit (93-67) one game behind Texas in the race for home-field advantage in the ALDS, Scherzer (14-9, 4.37 ERA) will look for a timely strong start to close an up-and-down season. The right-hander has gone 8-9 with a 4.80 ERA since opening the year 6-0 with a 3.20 ERA.
He’s surrendered two or fewer runs 20 times, but yielded five or more in nine appearances.
Leyland limited Scherzer to five innings in a 6-3 victory at Kansas City on Wednesday to get Fister some work and set up the playoff rotation.
Scherzer allowed two runs and five hits while striking out five.
“I feel very good about the playoffs,” he said.
Scherzer is 2-0 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts against Cleveland this season.
While Scherzer looks to end the year on a positive note, Miguel Cabrera(notes) will continue his push for the AL batting title. Cabrera, hitting a league-best .343, is 22 for 60 (.367) against Cleveland in 2011 after going 3 for 5 with an RBI single Monday, his fourth straight multihit game.
Cabrera has two hits and a homer in seven at-bats off Gomez.
The Indians right-hander, though, has not allowed a home run in winning his five starts since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Aug. 30. Gomez’s ERA during the win streak fell to 1.80 after he gave up two runs - one earned - in six innings of an 11-2 victory over Chicago on Thursday.
“We’re not handing out jobs in September, but he’s put himself in the mix (of being in next season’s rotation),” manager Manny Acta said.
Gomez lasted 5 2-3 innings in a 9-5 victory over Detroit on April 29, surrendering three runs and a career high-tying 10 hits. He is 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in three career starts versus the Tigers.
The Indians (80-80), losers of five straight at Comerica Park, are trying to avoid a third consecutive sub-.500 season.