Max Scherzer has hardly been at his best lately, but he's also avoided losses with help from his teammates.
That's allowed the Detroit Tigers right-hander another attempt at an MLB-best seventh consecutive win in Sunday's series finale against the Seattle Mariners, who are hoping to get Robinson Cano back in the lineup.
Scherzer (6-1, 3.00 ERA) has given up a combined 12 runs and 20 hits over 13 innings in his last two outings after allowing a total of six runs in six consecutive winning starts. He hasn't been saddled with losses because the Tigers (31-21) provided him with a combined 14 runs of support.
He gave up five runs and eight hits in six innings Tuesday in Oakland, but Detroit rallied for a 6-5 victory after he left.
"I left some pitches up and they took advantage of it," Scherzer told the team's official website.
Scherzer is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA in six career starts against Seattle (27-28) and fanned 12 while yielding one run over eight innings in his lone matchup last year. He did not get a decision in that 2-1 road victory April 17, and is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three career outings at Safeco Field.
When he was scheduled for his first start against the Mariners this season, Scherzer might have expected to face prized free agent Cano, but the second baseman has missed the past three games with a bruised left hand.
Cano's injury isn't considered serious, but his status remains unknown for this game.
"I'm a little bit better than yesterday. Otherwise, I don't know what I can say," he said through a team spokesperson Saturday.
Cano, who played at least 159 games in each of the prior seven seasons, was batting .409 with 12 RBIs in his 17 contests before the injury. The Mariners lost their first two games without him in the lineup but held on for a 3-2 victory Saturday.
Willie Bloomquist, batting .214 this season, had a pair of RBI singles in his first appearance in a week. Miguel Cabrera had the Tigers' lone RBI with his third homer in five games.
"I thought we had a chance to win that game but we couldn't seem to get the big hit," Ausmus said after his team went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. "And when we did seem to get the big hit, it wasn't a hit. It was caught."
Cabrera, batting .382 (13 for 34) in his last 10 contests, and his teammates are set to face Roenis Elias (3-4, 4.02) for the first time.
The rookie left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.94 ERA in his last four starts. He gave up five runs in 6 1-3 innings in his latest outing, a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
"I think it's just a matter of efficiency," manager Lloyd McClendon told the team's website. "What he's battling now is just consistent command in the strike zone. I'm not surprised. For a young pitcher, that happens. But when he throws strikes, he's pretty good."
Cano is 2 for 13 with four strikeouts lifetime against Scherzer, and Justin Smoak is 1 for 10. Kyle Seager, meanwhile, is 3 for 7 versus the Detroit right-hander.