Detroit acquired Fister from the Mariners last July 30, and he went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA down the stretch. His 2012 has featured a month on the disabled list and a handful of rough starts, but when Fister takes the mound against the Orioles on Sunday at Comerica Park, he will do so riding another strong second-half run.
Fister, who will oppose Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen, is 5-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his past seven starts. He has a 48-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio and has held opposing batters to a .199 average over that span, although he isn't interested in drawing comparisons to 2011.
"Right now, it's just been a focus of, 'OK, what's not going right and what do I need to work on?'" Fister said.
His hot streak couldn't come at a better time for the Tigers, who trail the Orioles by one game in a tight American League Wild Card race heading into Sunday's rubber game. Such a situation doesn't bring any extra pressure for Fister, who helped Detroit cruise to an AL Central title last season.
"We go out there every day saying we have to win this game no matter what," Fister said. "We want our future to be in our hands and not relying on someone else. We just have to take care of our business and go about our business the right way, and hopefully it will pan out for us."
While Chen can't match Fister's recent success, the left-hander has provided the Orioles' rotation with a solid presence all season, going 11-7 with a 3.70 ERA. In his rookie year out of Taiwan, Chen got his first look at the Tigers on July 14, holding them to one run on two hits in six innings.
Chen bounced back from a seven-run outing on Aug. 9 to limit the Red Sox to one run over six innings on Tuesday, with four strikeouts and one walk. He did give up a season-high nine hits for the second straight start.
"Chen is good," Red Sox outfielder Cody Ross said. "He locates his ball as good as anybody. He was getting some big outs when he needed to, and big strikeouts."
Orioles: Markakis enjoying No.1 spot
Right fielder Nick Markakis started Saturday's game with a walk, later notched two singles and finished 2-for-3. It was Markakis' 35th straight start in the leadoff spot, where the 28-year-old had never played in the big leagues before this season.
The switch has been fruitful, as Markakis has batted .329 with a .378 on-base percentage, 15 extra-base hits and 24 runs scored.
Chris Davis' tie-breaking three-run homer in Saturday's seventh inning was his first extra-base hit of August. Davis started the day hitting .176 with 18 strikeouts in 13 games this month.
Tigers: Plenty of work ahead for Baker
The Orioles' Zach Britton, who started on Saturday, was the first of five consecutive left-handers the Tigers are scheduled to face. That figures to make Jeff Baker a busy man.
The veteran utility man was traded from the Cubs to the Tigers on Aug. 5, and had only 11 plate appearances entering Saturday. He went 0-for-3 as the right fielder on Saturday, but figures to collect plenty of playing time against southpaws.
"It's something I've dealt with through my whole career," Baker said of his part-time role. "I was a utility guy in Colorado and then kind of platooned in Chicago, and it's one of those things. You can get frustrated and get upset about it and dwell on it, or you can build it into a positive and be ready to roll and try to make yourself one of the best. I take a lot of pride in going out there and trying to have quality at-bats, whether you have your timing or not. The bottom line is it's about winning."
Right-hander Anibal Sanchez, whom the Tigers acquired from the Marlins before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, was Sunday's original starter before his turn in the rotation was pushed back to Wednesday. Sanchez is 1-3 with a 7.97 ERA in four starts for Detroit, and will pitch on eight days' rest against the Blue Jays.
Sunday will be the teams' final meeting of the regular season. The Tigers have won three of five games.
Fister held the Orioles to one run on three hits in seven innings on July 13 in Baltimore. He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.