Max Scherzer is probably not the best pitcher for the Houston Astros to face as they try to avoid a season sweep to the Detroit Tigers.
Scherzer looks to help Detroit finish 7-0 against Houston while staying unbeaten himself Wednesday as he takes on an Astros team mired in its third six-game losing streak of the season.
Detroit has outscored Houston 50-12 in 2013, winning 6-2 on Tuesday night. The Tigers (22-15) have taken 11 of the past 13 meetings, including six straight at home dating to July 14, 2000.
The Astros (10-30) are batting .178 with nine extra-base hits in the six matchups this season and have to face Scherzer (5-0, 3.61 ERA) again after he limited them to one run and three hits over eight innings of a 17-2 victory in Houston on May 4.
The right-hander is among the major league leaders with 61 strikeouts and has walked nine in 47 1-3 innings. Houston has struck out a big league-high 400 times this season, including 66 in 208 at-bats against Detroit while walking nine times.
"We have spurts where we have good at-bats, but there are other times where we miss the pitch we need to hit, or when we are taking the pitches we need to attack," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "The key to making it in this league is figuring out the pitchers and how they are trying to get you out. You need to be able to adjust to the way they are attacking you, and we aren't there yet."
Scherzer went eight innings again Friday, allowing four runs and five hits in a 10-4 home win over Cleveland. He struck out seven without a walk.
"That's one of the best pitchers in the game, and we got four runs off him, so that's pretty good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He just pounds the strike zone and then he's got the wipe-out changeup, so you aren't going to get much off him without scratching and clawing. I wish we had gotten 10 off him, but that's not too likely."
Houston will probably have a hard time scoring off Scherzer given its struggles on the road. The Astros have dropped 13 of 14 away from home, twice managing more than four runs.
They'll also be without their best hitter after placing second baseman Jose Altuve on the bereavement list Tuesday following the death of his grandmother. Altuve, batting .333, is expected to be back with the team Saturday.
It will be up to Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.43) to keep the Tigers, who lead the majors with 201 runs, in check after facing them in relief May 2.
The left-hander entered that game in the 10th inning with the score tied at 3-all and went four scoreless innings before being charged with four runs in the 14th of a 7-3 loss.
Keuchel made his first start of the season Friday and didn't receive a decision after allowing two runs over six innings in a 4-2 loss to Texas.
Porter came away impressed by Keuchel, who went 3-8 with a 5.27 ERA in 16 starts last season.
"Dallas was tremendous," Porter said. "He did a great job of attacking the zone and throwing the sinker ball away. He pitched to both sides of the plate and got a lot of ground balls. He kept us right there for six innings."
Miguel Cabrera went 2 for 3 and hit his eighth home run Tuesday as Detroit sent Houston to its 16th loss in 19 games. Cabrera, who leads the majors with 41 RBIs, is batting .417 (10 for 24) with three homers and eight RBIs against the Astros this season.