The Philadelphia Phillies have made almost every opposing starter look like an All-Star while struggling offensively this week.
That doesn't bode well considering they will face an actual one Saturday.
Scherzer (14-1, 3.14 ERA), who pitched a perfect opening inning for the AL in the All-Star game, came out of the break sharp Monday, allowing two solo homers and two other hits over eight innings in a 7-3 road victory over the Chicago White Sox. The right-hander won for the 20th time in his last 30 starts since Aug. 10, the most in the majors in that span.
"I was working ahead in the count, had four pitches going," Scherzer, who could become the first Tigers pitcher to start 15-1 dating back to at least 1919, told the team's official website. "I felt that made me effective and allowed me to have some quick innings. No walks - that's always a recipe for success."
Scherzer, making his first interleague start this year and first career appearance versus the Phillies, has had mixed results against NL opponents. He is 6-6 with a 3.79 ERA in 14 starts against the senior circuit but won both his home outings last year, striking out 27 in 15 innings in victories over Pittsburgh and Colorado.
The injury-ravaged Phillies (49-54) have plated only 10 runs during their losing streak, batting .208 with 48 strikeouts in 197 at-bats, and they've scored five times in their last five. Manager Charlie Manuel thinks the looming trade deadline is also contributing to his team's woes, noting, "We've got a lot of young, inexperienced players, and they get concerned about where they are going to be playing and who is going be traded."
Whatever the reasons, opposing starters have compiled a 1.36 ERA in the six contests, and the best pitcher in that group - NL All-Star starter Matt Harvey of the New York Mets - fanned 10 in seven innings of a 5-0 win Sunday.
Having a non-existent margin of error may not have mattered much to All-Star Cliff Lee , but the left-hander was scratched due to a stiff neck - fueling speculation the Phillies may deal him - and gives way to Raul Valdes (1-0, 7.59 ERA). The left-hander went 3-4 with a 3.10 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 66 2-3 innings over 12 starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley before being recalled Tuesday, when he allowed one run and two hits in 1 1-3 innings in relief of a 4-1 loss at St. Louis.
Valdes, who will make his third career start and first since June 27, 2012, has never faced the Tigers.
He may catch a break if slugger Miguel Cabrera is sidelined for a fifth straight game due to a sore left hip flexor. The AL MVP took batting practice prior to Friday's 2-1 victory and may be available as a DH or pinch hitter, but the Tigers (57-45) continue to be cautious with the 2012 Triple Crown winner.
"Obviously, you'd rather lose Miguel Cabrera for two or three games than two or three weeks," trainer Kevin Rand told the team's official website. "He's feeling a lot better, but he still feels he needs another day or so. It's important for us to make sure that he's right before he comes back."
Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter should be available after missing Friday's win due to a sore Achilles he said occurred by wearing dress shoes that were too tight. He is 6 for 14 with three homers in his last four games.
|July 26, 2013||Cliff Lee||Day-to-Day||Stiff neck|
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 24, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|July 14, 2013||Joe Savery||15-Day DL||Left elbow stiffness|
|July 14, 2013||Ben Revere||15-Day DL||Broken right foot - out 6-8 weeks|
|July 13, 2013||Ben Revere||Day-to-Day||Broken right foot|
|July 25, 2013||Torii Hunter||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left Achilles|
|July 23, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained left hip flexor|
|July 14, 2013||Justin Verlander||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right quadriceps tightness|
|July 07, 2013||Darin Downs||15-Day DL||Left rotator cuff tendinitis|
|July 04, 2013||Omar Infante||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|July 03, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - left shin|
DETROIT (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera figured he'd try to play after missing four games because of a hip problem.
In his first plate appearance back, he homered - a feat so impressive teammate Max Scherzer found it downright amusing.
"I laugh every day," Scherzer said. "It can be a pitcher throwing his `out' pitch in the right location, and he'll hit it for a home run. It just doesn't surprise you, anything he does. He's obviously the best."
Cabrera's first-inning homer was the start of an early offensive outburst, and the Detroit Tigers went on to a 10-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. Scherzer allowed only one hit in six innings to become baseball's first 15-game winner.
The Phillies lost their seventh in a row.
"That wasn't much fun," Philadelphia's Chase Utley said. "They came out with hot bats and we came out facing one of the best pitchers in baseball."
Scherzer (15-1) threw only 75 pitches - he was one of several stars pulled early after the game got out of hand. Detroit scored five runs in the first and three in the second off Raul Valdes (1-1), who started because Cliff Lee was out with a stiff neck.
Cabrera's solo homer in the first was his 32nd of the year, and he later added two more RBIs to increase his season total to 99. Matt Tuiasosopo hit a three-run homer in the first.
The Tigers remain three games ahead of second-place Cleveland in the AL Central. The Phillies, meanwhile, are now 10 back of NL East-leading Atlanta.
Detroit outhit Philadelphia 15-2.
Valdes had been used exclusively as a reliever this year, and his first start since June 27, 2012, did not go well. He actually retired his first two batters before Cabrera - back after missing some time while his left hip recovered - went deep to put Detroit ahead 1-0.
"I'm feeling OK, so I was thinking, try to go out there and try to go and play," Cabrera said. "I don't want to do too much today - wanted to make something happen. I tried to make sure I made contact with the ball."
Prince Fielder , Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta followed with consecutive singles - Peralta's hit brought home another run - and Tuiasosopo hit his seventh homer of the year, to the bushes beyond the wall in center field.
Cabrera added an RBI single in the second, and Martinez's two-run single made it 8-0.
Cabrera came out of the game in the fifth, and he wasn't the only one who didn't stick around for the full nine innings. Fielder, Utley and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins were among the players pulled early.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he took Cabrera out as a precaution as the slugger works his way back from his injury. Scherzer was also allowed a bit of extra rest because of the big lead.
"It gives me a chance to regroup," said Scherzer, who celebrated his 29th birthday Saturday. "It was a 10-0 game, and there really wasn't much more to accomplish in the game tonight."
The only baserunner Scherzer allowed was Darin Ruf , whose second-inning double was nearly caught by Austin Jackson in center. Scherzer struck out seven, and the Detroit All-Star again got plenty of run support. Detroit has backed Scherzer with an MLB-best average of 7.64 runs.
"That's why I love being in Detroit," Scherzer said. "If you go out and pitch well, you have a good chance to win the ballgame. Obviously, I was able to pitch effectively tonight, and obviously, these guys came out chomping at the bit."
Cabrera hit an RBI groundout in the fourth. Valdes was finally pulled after allowing nine runs and 12 hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out three.
NOTES: The game started after a 47-minute rain delay. The game itself took only 2:25. ... Tuiasosopo snapped an 0-for-10 skid with his homer. ... The Tigers go for a three-game sweep Sunday when RHP Rick Porcello (7-6) takes on Philadelphia RHP Jonathan Pettibone (5-4).