Alex Colome has stood on the mound at Tropicana Field before, pitching an inning or two, as he recalls it, back when he was with the Rays' Rookie-level affiliate.
Suffice it to say, Friday night's showdown with the Tigers will be quite a bit different than the last time he pitched in St. Petersburg. Colome will make his first start at Tropicana Field against the Tigers, lining up opposite the undefeated Max Scherzer, the early leader in the American League Cy Young Award race.
"It's a hard team to beat," Colome said. "I think it's one of the best lineups in the big leagues."
And they just might have the best pitcher in the AL right now, too. Scherzer is looking to become the first pitcher to start the season 12-0 since Roger Clemens accomplished the feat for Boston in 1986. That's hardly what the Rays want to hear, given how tough the Tigers' pitching staff has been on them over the past few years
"It's the way they pitch us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They pitch us well. We've actually pitched against them pretty well, I think, overall. They pitch us very tough. That's been our difficulty versus them over the last couple years. We have not scored many runs."
But Colome, set to make his third start of the season for the Rays, feels like he's in a good place to face that challenge. He gave up three runs on five hits and five walks over 4 1/3 innings his last time out, but he has yet to allow an earned run over his first two starts, the first pitcher since 2009 to begin his Major League career by making two straight starts without an earned run.
"I feel really good. I think I'm going to feel better than the second time," Colome said. "I feel like I can make better pitches in better locations. I feel more strong, more confident. I feel very good."
He might have to be even better than "very good" to beat Scherzer, who carries an 11-0 record and a 3.05 ERA into Friday's outing. Scherzer is the fastest Tigers pitcher to reach double digits in wins since Jack Morris in 1987.
What's more, Scherzer has struck out at least six batters in each of his 15 starts this season, tying Pedro Martinez in 1999 for the second-longest streak of six-strikeout games to begin a season in AL history.
The right-hander is coming off two impressive starts against hot-hitting lineups, holding the Orioles to one run with 10 strikeouts, then permitting two runs over seven innings against the Red Sox on Saturday.
Tigers: Scherzer chasing Pedro
• Scherzer may have tied Martinez for the second-longest streak of six-strikeout games to begin a season in AL history, but he's got a long way to go before he's even within striking distance of the top spot. Martinez put together a 29-game streak with six strikeouts or more in 2000, when he fanned 284 batters in 217 innings en route to the AL Cy Young Award.
• Friday's game is the first of a three-city, two-country, 11-game road trip for the Tigers. Detroit will play in Tampa Bay, Toronto and Cleveland during the stretch.
While the 11-game trip will be a test, manager Jim Leyland is trying to see the bright side.
"You know, I've always looked at it with a positive spin, I like to take the Detroit Tigers anywhere," Leyland said. "We've got a good team, and I'd like the world to see them. You can look at it a lot of ways … We might go on the road and might not be very good, or we might go on the road and win eight out of 11. Whatever it is, who knows? I like to take our team on the road. I like people to se the Detroit Tigers. We're pretty good."
Rays: Intentional walks working out
• Wil Myers joined the Rays with plenty of hype and high expectations, but that hasn't stopped opposing pitchers from intentionally walking batters to get to him. That doesn't mean the strategy has paid off against the rookie sensation, of course.
The batter ahead of Myers has been intentionally walked three times, and Myers has two hits with a homer and five RBIs in those situations, most recently knocking an RBI single to left field off Mark Buehrle on Tuesday night.
"As he continues to come through, that's going to go away," Maddon said.
• The Rays are 21-14 this season when playing teams outside the AL East.
• Rays first baseman James Loney is batting .380 (27-for-71) against left-handed pitchers this season. He was a career .248 hitter against lefties entering this year.
• Scherzer has historically had some trouble with a couple of new Rays. Shortstop Yunel Escobar owns a 1.062 OPS in 33 plate appearances against Scherzer, and Loney has hit .294/.333/.529 against the right-hander. Overall, however, current Rays hitters own a .227/.286/.375 batting line against Scherzer with 34 strikeouts in 128 at-bats.