The new Kansas City ace will try to improve to 2-0 and lead the Royals to their second straight victory over the defending AL champions when he faces the Detroit Tigers on Saturday.
The Royals (2-2) signed Meche (1-0, 1.23 ERA), a 28-year-old right-hander who had won more than 11 games just once in six seasons with Seattle, to a club-record, $55 million contract in December.
On Monday, he limited a powerful Boston lineup to one run and six hits in 7 1-3 innings of Kansas City’s 7-1 opening-day victory, temporarily silencing his critics but earning a standing ovation from more than 41,000 fans when he left the game.
“It was great, something I’ll never forget, being a part of this,” said Meche, who struck out six while issuing only one walk. “The standing ovation was an unbelievable feeling for me.”
Meche is 5-3 with a 3.96 ERA in 11 career starts against Detroit.
In Friday night’s series opener, the Royals defeated the Tigers (1-2) at home for the first time in 10 meetings, as shortstop Tony Pena Jr.’s third triple in four games keyed a two-run seventh inning in a 3-1 victory. Pena, the son of the former major league catcher who managed the Royals from 2003-2005, is hitting .308 (4-for-13) in his first four games.
However, the cold weather gripping the Midwest may have overshadowed much of the game. The gametime temperature was only 35 degrees, and the wind chill dipped to 23 by the sixth inning.
“That might have been one of the most miserable nights I think I ever spent at a baseball game,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
More cold weather is forecast for Saturday, with afternoon temperatures in Kansas City expected in the upper 30’s.
The Tigers’ bats struggled Friday, managing only five hits and scoring their lone run on Craig Monroe’s second-inning sacrifice fly to drive in Carlos Guillen. Detroit scored eight runs in the third inning of Wednesday’s 10-9 victory over Toronto, but has totaled just six runs in the other 25 innings it has batted this season.
The Tigers send Mike Maroth to the mound for his first start since May 25 at Kansas City, when he gave up six runs and six hits, including three homers, in just one-third of an inning. He landed on the disabled list after that outing with bone chips in his pitching elbow.
The left-hander, whose 14 wins in 2005 tied with Jeremy Bonderman for the team lead, returned to make four relief appearances in September, but did not participate in the Tigers’ postseason run to their first AL championship since 1984.
Despite the rough outing last May, Maroth is 9-8 with a 4.18 ERA in 22 appearances - 21 starts - versus the Royals.