Miguel Cabrera is doing all he can to help the Detroit Tigers remain in the hunt for a second straight AL Central title.
The Tigers hope Max Scherzer is healthy enough to do the same.
With Scherzer on the mound in the opener and Cabrera in pursuit of history, the Tigers conclude their weekend home series against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday with a split doubleheader.
Cabrera hit his 42nd homer and Doug Fister pitched his first career shutout in Saturday's 8-0 win over Minnesota. Detroit (80-70) has won seven of 10 and is just a half-game behind the division-leading Chicago White Sox.
"This is what you play for, a chance to be in it,'' manager Jim Leyland said. "Obviously, we felt we would do a little bit better than this, but we haven't and we're still playing for something.''
The Tigers continue to rely on Cabrera, who is flirting with the Triple Crown while leading the AL with a .332 average and 131 RBIs. His career-high 42 home runs are tied for the AL lead with Texas' Josh Hamilton, who remains out with a sinus problem.
Boston's Carl Yastrzemski won the last Triple Crown in 1967.
"It's something special,'' said Cabrera, batting .432 (16 for 37) with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last nine games.
He's hit .423 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 13 games versus Minnesota (62-89) this year.
"I come to the ballpark to see (Cabrera) walk, and not all the way around the bases,'' said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team has dropped three straight and five of six against the Tigers..
Scherzer (16-6, 3.78 ERA) is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in his last four starts against the Twins, including 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA in 2012.
The right-hander will not have to miss a start despite leaving Tuesday's against Oakland with shoulder fatigue. He completed a short throwing session without any problems Saturday.
"Everything felt good," Scherzer told the Tigers' official website. "I was able to throw every pitch."
Scherzer is 6-0 with a 1.93 ERA in nine starts since losing at Boston on July 30.
Minnesota counters in the afternoon contest with Scott Diamond (11-8, 3.69), who is 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA since Aug. 28. The left-hander looks to avoid a third straight losing start after he allowed six runs in 5 1-3 innings of a 9-2 defeat at Chicago last Sunday.
Diamond is 0-2 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts versus Detroit.
In the nightcap, the Twins hand the ball to P.J. Walters (2-4, 6.39), who is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts after missing almost two months with shoulder inflammation. He gave up four runs - two earned - in five innings of a 6-5, 12-inning win at Cleveland on Tuesday.
The right-hander went 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA in two May starts against the Tigers.
Detroit turns to Drew Smyly (4-3, 4.45), who has made his last four appearances out of the bullpen since he allowed an earned run and struck out six in six innings while not factoring in the decision of a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 25.
The rookie left-hander is 4-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 16 starts this season. One of those came at Minnesota on May 25, when he allowed four runs in five innings of a 10-6 victory.
Joe Mauer had two of the Twins' seven hits Saturday. The All-Star is batting .431 in his last 16 games, and .357 (20 for 56) versus Detroit in 2012.
- Max Scherzer
- Miguel Cabrera