With their late April swoon behind them, the Detroit Tigers have become baseball’s hottest team.
Detroit will try to extend its winning streak to seven games and record a second straight series sweep when it meets the Kansas City Royals on Sunday in the finale of a three-game set.
The Tigers (18-11) rallied with three runs in the top of the eighth inning for a 7-5 win on Saturday, improving to 6-2 this season over the Royals (10-21).
Detroit’s six-game winning streak - currently the longest in the majors - comes after the Tigers went 3-6 from April 18-28 and now has them percentage points behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central.
“It’s the big leagues,” Monroe said. “I think if you continue to grind out the at-bats and focus on what you’re doing, good things happen.”
Placido Polanco went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .361 for the Tigers, who have scored 13 runs and tallied 24 hits in the series.
The only downside came when hard-throwing reliever Joel Zumaya strained his right finger while warming up in the bullpen. Zumaya, who is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 13 games, was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game. Right-hander Aquilino Lopez was recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
“I can tell you this, if it is a situation where we’ve lost Joel for a period of time, then that tests the character of your team and other guys have to step up,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.’
Detroit could stay hot at the plate Sunday when they face Kansas City’s Zack Greinke.
Greinke, who is 6-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 10 games - eight starts - against Detroit, didn’t last long against the Tigers last month. The right-hander allowed four runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning in Kansas City’s 12-5 road loss on April 16.
Greinke (1-3, 4.70) is winless in his last four starts, and allowed six runs and 10 hits in five innings of the Royals’ 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. That came after he pitched seven scoreless innings in a 1-0, 11-inning loss at Minnesota on April 26.
Kansas City is 1-5 in games Greinke has started.
“I have thrown terrible so far,” Greinke told the Royals’ official Web site. “We have won (once) when I have thrown. I am really not doing the job. Hopefully, I will do good the next few times in a row so we can win some games.”
Chad Durbin (1-1, 6.39 ERA) will take the ball for the Tigers. Durbin allowed two runs, three hits and walked a season-high six in 3 2-3 innings of Detroit’s 5-4 win over Baltimore on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA in six games - three starts - against the Royals.
Kansas City’s Mike Sweeney hit a two-run homer Saturday, the 193rd of his career to tie Amos Otis for second on the teams’ all-time list trailing only George Brett (317).
Sweeney is hitting .727 (8-for-11) with four doubles against Durbin.