Scherzer will try to help the Tigers reduce their magic number as he takes his fifth crack at reaching the 20-win mark Friday night against the visiting Chicago White Sox.
While they have a healthy advantage over second-place Cleveland with nine games remaining, the Tigers won't be able to officially clinch the title until Saturday at the earliest if enough results fall into place.
Scherzer (19-3, 2.95 ERA), however, does have another opportunity to join teammate Justin Verlander (2011) as the only Detroit pitchers to reach the 20-win mark since 1991.
"I'm not sitting here chasing personal stuff down, I'm trying to win for the team," Scherzer told MLB's official website. "This is all about trying to get us into the postseason. I don't care if I win another game. If we win our division, that's all that matters."
Although Scherzer leads the majors with a 6.7 run-support average, he's received four runs while going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in his last four starts.
Scherzer had a season high-tying 12 strikeouts while allowing one run over seven innings Sunday, but the bullpen failed to hold a one-run lead in the eighth of a 3-2 win over Kansas City.
Now Scherzer faces the White Sox (60-92) for the second time in three starts after allowing five runs over a season-low four innings in a 5-1 loss at Chicago on Sept. 9. He had been 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA while limiting the White Sox to a .156 batting average in his previous five meetings.
After taking two of three from visiting Minnesota, the White Sox look to build on their first series win this month by giving the ball to Andre Rienzo (2-2, 5.04).
The rookie right-hander hopes to rebound from his recent struggles. He's 1-2 with a 7.32 ERA in his last four outings, allowing seven home runs and 13 walks over 19 2-3 innings.
"It's the first time I play ball in September," Rienzo said. "But I don't feel tired. I feel good. I need to figure out little things to help me. If I can figure them out, I know I'll make the ball club next year."
Rienzo pitched well in his only start against the Tigers on Aug. 4, when he allowed two runs and four hits over six-plus innings in a 3-2, 12-inning road loss.
Victor Martinez went 1 for 2 with a walk while facing Rienzo in that meeting. He's 11 for 23 over a seven-game hitting streak against the White Sox.
The Tigers have won 10 of 16 in the season series, including a three-game home sweep Aug. 2-4.
|Alejandro De Aza||17||.235||4||1||2||1||7||.278||.690||.412|
|Chicago White Sox|
|September 08, 2013||Avisail Garcia||Day-to-Day||Pulled teeth|
|September 02, 2013||Tyler Flowers||Day-to-Day||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|September 02, 2013||Tyler Flowers||60-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|August 20, 2013||Jeff Keppinger||Day-to-Day||Stiff lower back|
|August 16, 2013||Ramon Troncoso||15-Day DL||Pericarditis|
|August 16, 2013||Ramon Troncoso||15-Day DL||Pericarditis|
|September 19, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|September 19, 2013||Phil Coke||Day-to-Day||Elbow|
|September 04, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Bilateral shin splints|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
DETROIT (AP) -- On this night, the only thing that was going to prevent Max Scherzer from winning his 20th game was the weather.
Scherzer finally reached that elusive milestone Friday, becoming the first pitcher this season to do so when he led the Detroit Tigers to a 12-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Detroit gave Scherzer a big lead early, and he pitched six innings on a night when rain made conditions unpleasant but never delayed the game.
Scherzer, who has downplayed his win total all season, did take a moment to celebrate after the game.
"We had a nice little champagne toast," Scherzer said. "It was definitely nice to celebrate with all your teammates, because they're the ones who got me here."
The AL Central-leading Tigers lowered their magic number to eliminate second-place Cleveland to three.
Torii Hunter , who had four hits for Detroit, said Scherzer was a little more excited than he was letting on.
"It means a lot to him," Hunter said. "He was freaking happy. He was like a kid in a candy store."
Scherzer (20-3) was making his fifth attempt at win No. 20. He had two losses and two no-decisions in his previous four starts before Friday's victory.
Although the teams played through the rain, there was always the possibility of a rainout before the game could become official - or a delay that could have knocked Scherzer out before he could pitch the required five innings for the victory.
Detroit's offense did its part, scoring two runs in the first, one in the second, four in the third and five in the fifth. With the rain falling and umbrellas showing up throughout the crowd, Scherzer allowed three runs and six hits. He walked one and struck out three.
The Tigers have backed Scherzer with 6.99 runs of support per nine innings this year. Victor Martinez homered Friday.
"Not many people are able to accomplish this, but at the same time, I realize why I accomplished this," Scherzer said. "It's everybody involved. This entire clubhouse is the reason why I won 20 games."
Dylan Axelrod (4-10) allowed seven runs in 2 2-3 innings. Former Tiger Avisail Garcia hit a two-run homer for Chicago.
Scherzer's previous career high was 16 wins last year, and he's been terrific this season from the start. He began with a 13-0 stretch and remains among the front-runners for the American League Cy Young Award.
"We've scored some runs for him, I don't think anybody denies that," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But he's been terrific. I hope he gets (the Cy Young ), but I leave that up to the guys that vote."
Chicago right-hander Andre Rienzo was scratched because of a blister on his throwing hand, forcing Axelrod to start in his place. After a sacrifice fly by Chicago's Conor Gillaspie opened the scoring in the first, the White Sox intentionally walked Martinez in the bottom of the inning with men on second and third and two outs. Andy Dirks followed with a bases-loaded single that scored two runs and put the Tigers ahead to stay.
Hunter's RBI double in the second made it 3-1, and Detroit sent 10 batters to the plate in the third.
Alex Avila hit an RBI single, and Hunter's single with the bases loaded brought home two more runs and chased Axelrod. Miguel Cabrera 's run-scoring single made it 7-1.
Axelrod hadn't pitched since Sept. 12, and he hadn't started since July 10, when he also gave up seven runs to the Tigers. He said he knew in advance he would be pitching Friday.
"I found out a couple of days ago and I was prepared," Axelrod said. "I'm not going to use that as an excuse. I didn't feel really out of sorts, I went about my regular routine. I'm used to starting so it wasn't that big of a deal, it just didn't work out."
Garcia, who was traded from Detroit to Chicago earlier this season, homered off Scherzer in the fourth to make it 7-3, and the White Sox loaded the bases in the fifth before Paul Konerko hit a weak grounder for the third out.
Prince Fielder 's two-run single in the Detroit fifth was followed by Martinez's two-run homer. Omar Infante added an RBI triple.
Garcia hit an RBI triple in the eighth to make it 12-5.
Chicago lost for the 93rd time this season, the most for the White Sox since they went 64-97 in 1976.
NOTES: Detroit's Ramon Santiago , playing SS because of an injury to Jose Iglesias , made a nice diving catch of Adam Dunn 's line drive in the second. ... Avila struck out four times. ... Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (13-8) takes the mound Saturday night against Chicago ace Chris Sale (11-13).