The Royals hope to keep their slim playoff hopes alive as they open up a three-game series against the woeful Tigers at Kauffman Stadium.
Kansas City have won seven of nine to move within 5 1/2 games of Minnesota in the AL Central with seven games remaining. Any combination of two Royals losses or two Twins wins will clinch the division for Minnesota.
“Right from the get-go, this team’s shown courage,” Royals manager Tony Pena said. “This team is going to play hard the whole year. That’s the point. The season’s not over. There’s still a week to go.”
Detroit must win four of its final seven to avoid losing more games than anyone in 103 years.
“We’re doing the best we can,” manager Alan Trammell said after the Tigers lost to the Twins 6-4 on Sunday.
Detroit, which dropped its ninth straight, tied the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117) for the second-most losses in a season since 1900. The 1962 New York Mets (40-120) own the record.
“I think we’re all mentally tired a little bit, but we got seven games left and we need to keep battling and see if we can get some wins,” said right-hander Nate Cornejo, who gave up a season-high 12 hits and six runs in 5 2-3 innings on Sunday.
Detroit has lost 15 of its last 16 overall.
“It kind of takes its toll on everybody,” Cornejo said of the looming loss record. “We want to put that out of our minds and have fun, but we all know what’s going on.”
STANDINGS: Tigers - 5th place, 48 1/2 GB, AL Central. Royals - 2nd place (tied), 5 1/2 GB, AL Central.
TIGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Gary Knotts (3-7, 5.65 ERA). Knotts is 0-2 with a 16.20 ERA in two starts against Kansas City this season. The right-hander has lost two straight starts overall, including a 10-4 defeat to the Royals last Monday. Knotts lasted just 2 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and four hits.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Paul Abbott (1-2, 4.95 ERA). Abbott is 2-3 with a 5.10 ERA in six career starts against Detroit. The veteran righty has lost two straight starts despite pitching fairly well. He allowed four runs and six hits while striking out six in five innings of a 9-1 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. Abbott was on the losing end of a 3-0 decision against Detroit on Sept. 12.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 13-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Tigers - 2B Warren Morris is 2-for-3 with a home run against RHP Abbott. … On Sunday, LHP Jamie Walker made his 75th relief appearance, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the Tigers’ single-season list. … INF Sanchez is batting .313 in September. Royals - SS Angel Berroa became the third Royal with at least 20 stolen bases in a season, joining OF Beltran and INF Desi Relaford. … Kansas City needs just one victory to clinch its first winning season since 1994 (64-51) and the first in a non-strike year since 1993 (84-78). … OF Beltran is second in the AL with 39 stolen bases.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Tigers - 18-60 on the road; Royals - 38-35 at home.
INJURIES: Tigers - INF Eric Munson (thumb), 15-day DL; INF Dean Palmer (shoulder), 60-day DL. Royals - OF Michael Tucker (leg), 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.