Before an injury caused him to miss his latest start, Detroit Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer was experiencing one of his best stretches of the season.
The Tigers are hoping Scherzer shows no ill effects from his hamstring injury Sunday when they try to record a season-high fifth straight win and pull off a feat against the Kansas City Royals that hasn't happened in nearly 10 years.
Scherzer (7-5, 4.98 ERA) is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 26 strikeouts over his last three starts but suffered the injury while running the day after winning in Tampa Bay on June 28. Tigers manager Jim Leyland took a cautious approach in skipping Scherzer's scheduled start Tuesday against Minnesota.
"It's one of those where we can't afford to take a chance with it," Leyland told the team's website. "So we just automatically scratched him."
Leyland is hoping his right-hander can help deliver his team's longest win streak since a 12-game run Sept. 2-14. Detroit (43-42) is also seeking its first home sweep of three or more games over Kansas City (37-46) since July 23-25, 2002. The Tigers swept a two-game set at Comerica Park from May 13-14, 2011.
They put themselves in position to accomplish that goal with an early hitting outburst and another home run from Delmon Young on Saturday.
"He's starting to do what I know he can do," Leyland said of Young. "He's a run-producer and right now he's producing."
Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and Detroit scored three runs in the second of an eventual 8-7 victory. Young added his third homer in as many games before closer Jose Valverde survived a three-run ninth.
Austin Jackson also extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games as his team moved above .500 for the first time since May 10.
"It was just a matter of time," said Young, whose 11 career homers versus the Royals are tied for his most against any one team. "We're too good of a team to struggle. We just need to win one more game to go into the break on a roll."
Everett Teaford (1-1, 4.70) will try to help the scuffling Royals avoid a sweep while building on his first win of the season. The left-hander gave up three runs and five hits over seven innings during an 11-3 victory over Toronto on Monday.
Kansas City could use a strong pitching performance as it's posted a 6.20 ERA while losing seven of nine. Royals starters have been even worse with a 7.63 ERA over that stretch.
"My game plan is to not get embarrassed, especially when you're going against guys like (Miguel) Cabrera and Fielder. I'll have to minimize walks and other freebies and keep guys off the bases," Teaford told the team's website.
Teaford has never started against the Tigers, but allowed one hit while recording a three-inning save July 9.
Scherzer earned the win in a 4-3 victory against the Royals on April 18 after going 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA over his previous three matchups. He was tagged for seven runs and 10 hits over three innings during a 9-5 loss at Comerica on Aug. 29.