After getting his 20th loss out of the way, Mike Maroth looks to begin making the most of the rest of the season as the struggling Detroit Tigers open a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park.
Last Friday, the 26-year-old left-hander gave up a season-high eight earned runs and nine hits in three-plus innings of an 8-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, becoming the first major leaguer since Brian Kingman in 1980 to reach 20 losses in a season.
“I’m a strong person. I’m going to overcome this. I know that,” he said.
Maroth learned before the start that his paternal grandmother passed away after a long battle with cancer.
“He’s a better man than most of us in here,” teammate Dmitri Young said. “For him to come out here and say, ‘Forget about everything, I’m going to go out and pitch for my team,’ I thought I failed him.”
The Tigers, who rank last in the majors with 509 runs, haven’t given Maroth much help. In five of his losses, he left the game with a 2-1 deficit.
“Hey, we win together, we lose together,” said manager Alan Trammell. “It’s not Mike. I know it’s on his record, but hey, he’s a trooper. Thirty-seven wins (for the team this year) is the answer.”
The last major league pitcher to lose 21 games was Bill Bonham, who went 11-22 for the Chicago Cubs in 1974.
“It’s hard to look at my record, that’s for sure,” Maroth said. “But (if) I go out there and pitch well (down the stretch), that will help me for next year.”
On Thursday, the Tigers lost 5-2 to the New York Yankees—their sixth straight setback.
Dmitri Young went 2-for-4 with a double for Detroit, which owns the worst records in the majors.
The Tigers must win six of their last 17 games to avoid matching the post-1900 record of 120 losses in a season set by the 1962 New York Mets in their inaugural season.
The Royals are coming in off Thursday’s 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians— their fourth defeat in six games.
Kansas City remained 3 1/2 games behind Chicago and Minnesota in the AL Central. The Twins beat the White Sox 5-2 on Thursday.
Joe Randa went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs for the Royals, but committed a throwing error in the eighth that led to the Indians’ go-ahead single.
STANDINGS: Royals - 3rd place, 3 1/2 GB, AL Central. Tigers - 5th place, 40 1/2 GB, AL Central.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Paul Abbott (1-0, 4.68 ERA). On Sunday, Abbott gave up just five hits in seven innings of a 3-0 win over the Anaheim Angels—his first major league victory since April 13, 2002. The right-hander, who had shoulder surgery in the summer of 2002, is 2-2 with a 5.25 ERA in five career starts against the Tigers.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Maroth (6-20, 5.75 ERA). In seven career starts against the Royals, Maroth is 3-3 with a 4.47 ERA.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 10-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - RHP Grimsley leads the AL with a career high-tying 73 appearances. … The AL’s annual coin-flips Thursday determined that if the Royals tie the White Sox for the top spot in the AL Central, the one-game tiebreaker would be played Sept. 29 at Kauffman Stadium. If they tie Minnesota for first, the tiebreaker would be played Sept. 29 at the Metrodome. … RHP Abbott is 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA in four appearances, including three starts, on the road this season. Tigers - Detroit has lost the most games in the major leagues since the 1998 Florida Marlins went 54-108. The Tigers have 214 losses since the start of 2002, the most in back-to-back years since the 1964-65 Mets dropped 221 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … OF Young’s fourth-inning single snapped an 0-for-18 streak. … Detroit stole four bases Thursday, matching their season-high.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 36-36 on the road; Tigers - 19-51 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - OF Michael Tucker (leg), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Lima (back), 15-day DL; RHP Kevin Appier (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Miguel Asencio (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Runelvys Hernandez (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Kyle Snyder (shoulder), 60-day DL. Tigers - INF Eric Munson (thumb), 15-day DL; INF Dean Palmer (shoulder and neck), 60-day DL.