Rogers and Rodriguez both have an opportunity to reach milestones Saturday night as the Tigers try to help their slim playoff chances when they face the Kansas City Royals in the middle game of their series.
At this time last year, Rogers and Rodriguez were helping Detroit secure its first postseason appearance since 1987. Now, the Tigers (84-70) are 7 1/2 games behind first-place Cleveland in the AL Central and trail the New York Yankees by five games for the wild card with only eight contests remaining.
“Crazier things have happened, so we’re going to play it out until the very end and we’ll see where we’re at,” Detroit first baseman Sean Casey said.
Rogers (3-2, 4.24 ERA) was an integral part of last year’s AL championship team, but has battled injuries this season. He isn’t likely to win a fourth straight Gold Glove, but is one pickoff away from becoming the all-time leader in that category since the statistic started being kept in 1974.
Rogers picked Jason Michaels off first base in the sixth inning of Detroit’s 6-5 loss to Cleveland on Monday, giving him 91 in his career to tie Mark Langston. The left-hander gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings.
He also suffered a loss against the Royals on July 20, giving up six runs - five earned - and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings as the Tigers fell 10-2. He is 20-15 with a 3.90 ERA in 33 career starts and 21 relief appearances against Kansas City.
Rogers’ batterymate Saturday is expected to be Rodriguez, who would then have sole possession of third place for most games played by a catcher in major league history. Rodriguez played his 2,056th game at catcher in Friday night’s series-opening 5-4 win over Kansas City (66-87), tying Gary Carter on the all-time list.
Rodriguez was also a cornerstone of last season’s playoff run, during which he batted .300. Despite going 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored Friday, however, he is hitting just .278 this year and throwing out a career-low 28.1 percent of basestealers.
The Tigers will face Royals right-hander Kyle Davies (2-6, 6.37), who has lost three straight starts and is 1-4 with a 7.59 ERA in his last five.
On Monday night, Davies gave up six runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings of an 11-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Davies’ first career appearance against the Tigers was on June 23, when he surrendered two runs and three hits while striking out six in 6 1-3 innings as the Royals lost 2-1.
The Royals have dropped 12 of their last 16 games and fallen back into last place in the AL Central, one-half game behind the White Sox.
Frustrated by his team’s poor play after Friday’s game, Kansas City manager Buddy Bell - who is leaving the team at season’s end - ended a one-minute news conference with a question: “Can I be done?”.
Detroit holds a 10-6 edge in the season series.