The Detroit Tigers couldn’t do much at the plate in their return to Dodger Stadium, but they’ve usually provided plenty of support to right-hander Max Scherzer this season.
The Tigers, though, are expected to rest Miguel Cabrera when Scherzer tries to become the AL’s first 10-game winner Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After batting .321 over its previous 14 games, Detroit (39-34) managed just two hits – a Ryan Raburn double and a Casper Wells single – and struck out 11 times Monday en route to a 4-0 defeat to open this three-game series.
The bats have usually been much livelier with Scherzer (9-2, 4.32 ERA) has started. The Tigers have provided him with 74 runs in his 15 starts and 23 three this month – all wins. Thanks in part to all that support, Scherzer is one of nine major league pitchers with nine wins. Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay will also try for his 10th win Tuesday.
This time, the Tigers will likely have to support Scherzer without Cabrera’s help. The first baseman, batting .324 with a team-best 14 homers and 48 RBIs, is expected to have the night off for the first time this season because he’s 0 for 12 with four strikeouts in his career against probable Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley (5-6, 4.65).
“This is a no-brainer,” manager Jim Leyland told the team’s official website. “He plays every day. He gives you everything he’s got, every single day.”
Brennan Boesch, who resides in Los Angeles during the offseason and was born in Santa Monica, might return to the lineup after getting some rest Monday. He’s batting .408 in his last 17 games with six homers and 13 RBIs.
Whoever is hitting for Detroit, Scherzer will try to keep pitching effectively. The hard-throwing right-hander has given up three runs over his last two outings and earned his third straight win Thursday against Cleveland by settling down after a two-run first inning. He lasted 5 2-3 innings and didn’t allow another run the rest of the way, netting a 6-3 victory.
“You’ve got to battle and make sure (you limit the damage),” Scherzer told the Tigers’ official website. “If you can (do that), that’s a good outing.”
Scherzer, who played his first two seasons with NL West rival Arizona, is 1-2 with a 3.51 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers (33-41) but will be facing them for the first time since Sept. 7, 2009.
Billingsley, meanwhile, will try to break out of his funk by beating the Tigers for the second time in as many seasons. He yielded one run and four hits over seven innings of a 4-1 home victory May 21, 2010.
Now, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA in his last two starts. He gave up a season-high seven runs over four innings of a 7-2 loss to Cincinnati on Wednesday.
“It’s unacceptable the way I’m pitching right now,” Billingsley said. “I’m just not executing some pitches in some situations. I just wasn’t very good today, and just have to come back out and get better and better. I’m going to keep working hard and figure it out.”
Billingsley is 4-4 with a 4.76 ERA in 12 career interleague starts, while Scherzer is 4-3 with a 2.76 ERA in eight.
The Tigers have the second-best record in interleague play since the start of 2006 (65-32), while Dodgers are 30-52 versus the AL over that same span.
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