The only team in the majors currently playing better than the Toronto Blue Jays is the Detroit Tigers.
With a chance to become the majors’ first seven-game winner, Max Scherzer looks to help the Tigers extend their season-high winning streak to eight games and prevent Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays from a sixth straight victory Monday night at Comerica Park.
While the finale of Detroit’s home set with Kansas City was postponed by rain, Toronto (20-20) completed a three-game sweep at Minnesota with an 11-3 win Sunday. Bautista hit a career-high three home runs to extend his major league-leading total to 16.
Bautista, who led the majors with 54 home runs in 2010, is batting .415 with 13 homers and 21 RBIs his last 19 games. That surge has him ahead of last year’s pace when he didn’t reach 16 homers until May 30.
“I guess this one of the hottest streaks I’ve ever had in my life,” Bautista said. “Hopefully I can keep this going for a while.”
Though Bautista has helped the Blue Jays average 7.6 runs during the winning stretch, they scored 14 runs and hit .229 while losing three of four at home to Detroit from May 6-9.
Bautista went 3 for 8 with a homer in the final two games after missing the first two of the set with neck tightness. He had two hits off Scherzer (6-0, 3.20 ERA) in a 10-5 loss last Monday, and is 4 for 5 with two doubles and a home run against the right-hander.
Scherzer, however, allowed two runs in five innings to improve 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA versus Toronto.
“When the Tigers win, I’m happy,” said Scherzer, who is tied with Oakland’s Trevor Cahill and Jered Weaver of the Los Angeles Angels for the major league wins lead.
The Tigers (22-18) have been happy with Scherzer’s performance this season at Comerica Park, where he’s 3-0 with an 0.96 ERA in four starts. He’s allowed eight hits in 16 scoreless innings of the last two.
Now, Scherzer tries to pitch the Tigers to their first eight-game winning streak since April 29-May 8, 2007.
“We’re not worried about winning streaks or anything like that,” catcher Alex Avila told the Tigers’ official website. “It’s just trying to play a consistent baseball game.”
Prized prospect Andy Dirks could make his major league debut in the opener. Called up after Magglio Ordonez went on the disabled list Friday, Dirks hit .328 in 34 games at Triple-A Toledo.
“He’s going to get to play,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s doing well.”
Victor Martinez has done well, batting .468 during a 13-game hitting streak. He’s 14 for 28 with two homers and 14 RBIs during the winning streak for the Tigers, who have averaged 7.0 during that span.
He went 7 for 16 with a homer and six RBIs at Toronto this month, and is batting .393 with four home runs and 18 RBIs during a 13-game hitting streak against the Blue Jays.
Martinez has never faced scheduled Toronto starter Kyle Drabek (2-2, 4.81), who looks to avoid a third straight loss while facing the Tigers for the first time. The right-hander allowed four runs, three walks and two home runs in five innings of a 7-6, 10-inning win over Boston on Tuesday.
Drabek has walked at least three in seven of his eight starts.
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