The Tigers got the second half started on a high note with a 7-2 win against the Orioles on Friday, but keeping a season-best six-game winning streak alive and continuing their climb towards the top of the American League Central will not be an easy task.
Between Friday and August 28, the Tigers only play one series against teams that were below .500 at the All-Star break.
"It's going to be a grind," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "There's no question about that. But that's what makes it all worthwhile in the end if you do good. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. We're going to play some real good teams here, starting with this one tonight."
"That's how you find out who you are."
The Orioles, although losers of 14 of their last 20, present a formidable challenge.
Especially with Wei-Yin Chen -- potentially the last piece of the O's starting rotation left intact after Jason Hammel's right knee injury on Friday -- set to take the hill.
"They're very good," Leyland said of the O's. "They've got a hell of a lineup here. And their pitching is very good."
Chen was hardly "very good" his last time out, surrendering a career-high three home runs in four-plus innings -- his shortest outing of the year -- in a loss against the Angels.
"Sometimes I pitch good one game, and sometimes I have a horrible game," Chen said through his interpreter, stressing the need to improve his consistency. "That's one thing I want to learn."
Detroit will counter with Max Scherzer, the American League leader in strikeouts per nine innings with 11.19.
After missing a start due to a hamstring injury, the right-hander allowed only one run on five hits in seven innings Sunday against Kansas City.
Tigers: Cabrera on top of his game
Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4 with a monstrous, 454-foot solo home run on Friday. Over the last 57 games, Cabrera is hitting .358 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs.
Cabrera also made a few strong defensive plays at third base, robbing Adam Jones of a double by snagging a scorching liner in the seventh.
Ryan Raburn struggled through the first half of 2012, hitting just .171, but notched his 11th RBI of the season with a fourth-inning double on Friday. In his career, Rayburn has hit .215 in the first half and .300 in the second half.
Orioles: Hammel suffers knee injury
Orioles starter Jason Hammel left Friday's outing during the first at-bat of the fourth inning with a right knee injury. He is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
"I was driving toward the plate, and it didn't feel good," Hammel said. "Something felt really bad."
Hammel dealt with soreness in his right knee for long stretches of the first half, once skipping a start to give it extra time to rest.
The Orioles lead the Majors with 76 errors.
After missing six weeks following surgery to remove a broken right hamate bone, Nick Markakis was in the Orioles lineup for the first time since May 29 on Friday. Markakis hit leadoff for the first time in his career, drilling an RBI ground-rule double in the third inning.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is in an 0-for-23 skid and is 3-for-16 with four strikeouts in his career against Scherzer.