Max Scherzer endured one of the worst performances of his career in his most recent outing. His lone start against the Cleveland Indians this season wasn't much better.
The Detroit right-hander tries for a better performance as he looks to lead the Tigers to a three-game sweep in Cleveland on Sunday.
After one of his best outings of the season, Scherzer (8-3, 3.84 ERA) was tagged for 10 runs - matching a career high - and 10 hits in four-plus innings of an 11-4 loss to Kansas City on Tuesday.
"I've taken punches on the chin before, and I've come back. I'm not worried about that," said Scherzer, who tossed a three-hit shutout on Chicago's South Side on June 12.
That start against the White Sox was his only stellar one in his last six games. Scherzer has an 8.90 ERA in the other five after going 6-1 with a 1.83 ERA in his first nine starts this season.
His difficulties began in Cleveland on May 21.
Scherzer gave up seven runs - all in the first three innings - and matched a career high by allowing 12 hits. His final four innings were scoreless, however, and he was in line for the win until the Indians (37-38) scored two runs in the ninth.
Cleveland went on to win 11-10 in 13 innings to complete a three-game sweep.
The Tigers (39-32) have a chance to return the favor following a 5-4 win in 10 innings Saturday. After Joe Nathan registered his fifth blown save in 20 chances, Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI double in the 10th and finished 2 for 5. Cabrera, batting .380 in his last 13 matchups with Cleveland, was 3 for 14 in his previous five games.
The win coupled with Kansas City's loss to Seattle pushed Detroit 1 1/2 games ahead of the Royals in the AL Central. The Tigers trailed by 1 1/2 on Wednesday.
Detroit now seeks a fourth straight win and a 12th in 16 games at Progressive Field. The Tigers' three-game win streak is their longest since a six-game run May 12-18 and follows a 9-20 stretch that started with their last visit to Cleveland.
Trying to avoid getting swept for a sixth time this season, the Indians turn to Josh Tomlin (4-4, 3.86).
The right-hander gave up season highs of six runs and 11 hits over 5 1-3 innings in a 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. The Indians had a one-run lead in the fifth inning until Tomlin gave up four runs, three on one swing from Mike Trout.
"I made a couple of mistakes ... and they made me pay for it," said Tomlin, who is 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA in his last two starts after going 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA in his first seven games this season.
Tomlin earned a win in relief in the victory over Detroit on May 21 by yielding one run in the final three innings. He 1-2 with a 6.11 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers, with the last one coming Aug. 19, 2011.
Austin Jackson has a homer, two doubles and a triple in his 11 career at-bats against Tomlin.
Nick Swisher has five hits in his last 12 at-bats versus Scherzer, but is batting a career-low .193 with a grand slam for his only hit in 20 at-bats in his last five games.