(Sports Network) – Max Scherzer has been a pleasant surprise for the Detroit Tigers and can become just the second six-game winner in the majors with another strong outing tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays in the finale of a four-game series from Rogers Centre.
Angels right-hander Jered Weaver leads the majors with a 6-2 record, while Scherzer is one of four starters with a 5-0 mark. Oakland’s Trevor Cahill also owns a 5-0 mark and is slated to take the mound Monday in Texas.
Scherzer has thrown eight shutout innings in two of his previous three starts and did so versus the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in last Wednesday’s 4-0 victory. Scherzer scattered four hits, struck out nine and walked two batters, improving to 5-0 in seven starts to go along with a 3.15 earned run average. He was able to rebound from a rough outing at Cleveland in which he yielded five runs over 6 2/3 frames.
The right-hander, who is 2-0 in three road starts this season, defeated the Blue Jays the only time he faced them on August 26 last season. In the 7-1 triumph north of the border, Scherzer fired eight innings of one-run ball and struck out eight batters.
The Tigers have won two straight and five of six games, and are coming off Sunday’s 5-2 win over Toronto behind a solid showing from Brad Penny. Penny held the Jays to a pair of runs on seven hits through 7 2/3 innings, while Daniel Schlereth and Jose Valverde picked up the slack to preserve the win. Valverde notched his seventh save of the season and 200th of his career by striking out the side in the ninth.
“Well it’s just another great milestone. You know those happen all the time, and this was a good one for him, obviously. We talked about it yesterday, actually, that he needed one more for 200. Well we were hoping to get it today and sometimes those things work out,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
Austin Jackson hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning and finished with three hits for Detroit, which got two hits and an RBI from Jhonny Peralta. Brandon Inge supplied two hits as well in a winning cause.
Detroit will open a two-game set in Minnesota after Monday’s game.
Toronto has lost two straight, three of four and six of its last eight games, and has been outscored by a 14-2 margin over the past two contests. In Sunday’s three-run loss to the Tigers, Blue Jays starter Jo-Jo Reyes fell to 0-3 on the season after he allowed five runs and eight hits in seven frames.
Jose Bautista, who returned to the lineup after missing the last five games with a stiff neck, belted a two-run homer for Toronto in the third inning.
“He [Penny] pitched me away earlier and he was successful. So I got to a 3-2 count and I said I’m going to give myself a chance to hit a good fastball, and I got it,” said Bautista, who led the major leagues with a career-high 54 homers last season.
Yunel Escobar collected a team-best two hits in defeat. Taking the mound for Toronto in Monday’s series finale with Detroit will be Brandon Morrow. Morrow is coming off his first win of the 2011 season, a 3-2 victory at Tampa Bay on May 4. Morrow held the Rays to a run on five hits and four walks with seven K’s in 6 1/3 innings of work.
Morrow, a right-hander, will face Detroit for the 11th time in his career and is 1-0 with three saves and a 1.69 ERA in the first 10 appearances, one of which was a start.
The Blue Jays and Tigers split eight matchups a season ago.