The Tigers look to return the favor as they visit the struggling Royals for a three-game series in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Kansas City won the first seven games between the teams last season en route to a 14-5 record against Detroit, which lost an AL-worst 119 games.
However, Detroit has made a remarkable turnaround this season and enters Tuesday just one win under .500 after 41 games. Last year, they were a brutal 9-32 in that span.
The Tigers lost 3-1 to the Mariners on Sunday, but took two of three at Seattle and have won four of their last seven. Detroit, which ended a 24-game stretch against the AL West at 10-14, ranks third in the AL Central and will play 10 of their next 13 games against division opponents.
“We kept ourselves right around where we need to be,” Detroit right fielder Bobby Higginson said. “Now we get in our division and we start making our move.”
The Royals, on the other hand, have yet to find their rhythm. Kansas City surprised the majors last year to finish with 83 wins after losing a franchise-record 100 games in 2002.
They return home after a six-game road trip, having lost four straight games and seven of their last nine. After a 3-2 loss to the Athletics on Sunday, they own the worst record in the majors.
“It’s gut-wrenching. It rips your heart out every time,” said first baseman Mike Sweeney, who has a six-game hitting streak with three homers and seven hits.
After the Tigers, the Royals will host the Twins, who are tied for the division lead with the White Sox, before resuming their rivalry with the Tigers in Detroit for a four-game series.
“The next 10 games are very important for us,” manager Tony Pena said. “We can make up some ground.”