Thanks largely to their starting rotation, the Detroit Tigers are on the verge of their longest winning streak in four years.
Max Scherzer could become the majors' first seven-game winner Sunday, when he tries to lead the Tigers an eighth consecutive victory and a three-game sweep of the visiting Kansas City Royals.
After Justin Verlander carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of Friday's 3-1 series-opening victory, Brad Penny limited Kansas City (20-19) to five hits in eight innings of Saturday's 3-0 win - Detroit's (22-18) season-high seventh straight.
"They were both well-pitched games, didn't make a lot of mistakes," Royals manager Ned Yost told MLB.com. "And then you've got Scherzer (on Sunday) who's no walk in the park."
Scherzer (6-0, 3.20 ERA) will now try to pitch the Tigers to their first eight-game winning streak since April 29-May 8, 2007. Not entirely coincidentally, that run took place the last time a Detroit pitcher opened 6-0 or better. Jeremy Bonderman went 8-0 in his first 13 starts of 2007.
Scherzer, Oakland's Trevor Cahill and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels are tied for a major league wins lead. Cahill is scheduled to face the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.
Scherzer is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in four home starts. He's been especially dominant in the last two, throwing 16 scoreless innings while giving up eight hits and striking out 16.
The hard-throwing right-hander got credit for Monday's 10-5 victory at Toronto despite laboring through five innings, yielding two runs, five hits and three walks while throwing 97 pitches.
"When the Tigers win, I'm happy. I just really wasn't sharp. I didn't really have command of any of my pitches," Scherzer said. "I haven't really looked at the film yet to decipher what went wrong, but that (release point) could be it."
Scherzer allowed one run in seven innings of a 5-2 home win over Kansas City on April 8, improving to 2-1 with a 1.45 ERA in three career home starts versus the Royals.
He'll now look to shut down a Kansas City team which has hit .129 and scored a total of one run in this series. Heralded rookie first baseman Eric Hosmer is 0 for 8 on the weekend while Jeff Francoeur, who leads the team with eight homers, is 1 for 7.
"I know our hitters are as good as anybody in this league," Saturday's losing pitcher Jeff Francis said, "and it takes a pretty good pitcher to shut us down, so I chalk it up more to lining up against good pitchers."
Royals scheduled starter Kyle Davies (1-5, 7.08), who gave up all five runs while losing to Scherzer last month, is trying to avoid his fifth consecutive defeat. He gave up three runs and seven hits over five innings of a 3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.
Davies is 0-3 with an 8.82 ERA in his last three starts at Detroit.
Detroit's Jhonny Peralta went 2 for 3 with an RBI on Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He's 10 for 22 lifetime off Davies.
Victor Martinez, batting .468 during a 13-game streak of his own, is 7 for 19 against the Kansas City right-hander.
Martinez is batting .500 with two homers and 14 RBIs during the Tigers' winning streak.
The Associated Press News Service
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