This time around, Jose Lima isn’t taking anything for granted.
Enjoying a surprising comeback with Kansas City, the veteran right-hander will bid for his fifth straight win as the Royals resume a three-game series with the Texas Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Lima pitched his way back to the majors in the independent Atlantic League, and is unbeaten in five starts since his return.
“Hats off to Lima,” Tigers first baseman Dmitri Young said after Lima’s latest win, a 5-3 triumph over his former team on Sunday.
“He’s back. I don’t know if he had a humbling experience or not going to the independent league. Whatever it was, his stuff today was great. He kept me off-balance and made a lot of guys look bad.”
The always-animated Lima didn’t mince words about how important it was to beat the team that gave up on him.
“I have nothing against the (Tiger players). They work their tail off every year,” he said. “Today I felt a little more excited ‘cause I’ve got to prove to them that I can still do it.”
Lima, who went 4-6 with a 7.77 ERA for Detroit last year, has a chance to surpass his 2002 win total in only his sixth start for the Royals.
The AL Central-leading Royals now lead second-place Minnesota by five games, following Friday’s 13-3 rout of Texas.
The Rangers, who dealt closer Ugueth Urbina to Florida prior to the game, saw their bullpen victimized for nine runs—eight earned—over the final two innings. They had won six of their previous seven games.
STANDINGS: Royals - 1st place, AL Central. Rangers - 4th place, 18 GB, AL West.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Lima (4-0, 3.06 ERA). Lima is 1-3 with a 5.19 ERA in 11 career appearances, including four starts, against Texas.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Ismael Valdes (7-5, 6.14 ERA). Valdes recovered nicely from three straight dismal outings by allowing one run and four hits over six innings in a 5-1 victory over Seattle on Sunday. The veteran right-hander had been pounded for 23 runs over 12 1-3 innings in his previous three outings. Valdes is 3-1 with a 4.46 ERA in seven career starts against the Royals.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Desi Relaford, .290 avg.; Michael Tucker, 13 HRs; Ibanez, 53 RBIs and 55 runs; Beltran, 24 SBs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .326 avg.; Juan Gonzalez, 23 HRs and 66 RBIs; Alex Rodriguez, 60 runs; Michael Young and Rodriguez, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - OF Beltran was in a 2-for-27 slump when he homered Friday, his first in 117 at-bats since June 7. … OF Ibanez is 7-for-19 (.368) with a homer and three RBIs in his career against RHP Valdes. … RHP Lima is 0-1 with a 9.26 ERA in five career appearances, including one start, in Arlington. Rangers - In exchange for RHP Urbina, the Rangers got 1B Adrian Gonzalez, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft, OF Will Smith and LHP Ryan Snare, the only one of the three on the Marlins’ 40-man roster. All three are playing in Double A. … Texas had homered in seven straight games before going homerless Friday. … 2B Michael Young is 8-for-17 in his last four games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 23-21 on the road; Rangers - 23-25 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - INF Mendy Lopez (calf), 15-day DL; 1B Mike Sweeney (back), 15-day DL; OF Dee Brown (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL. Rangers - OF Kevin Mench (wrist), 15-day DL; LHP Aaron Fultz (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.