Detroit (16-23) at Kansas City (17-21)

Fair Currently: Kansas City, MO
Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Wed May 14, 2008
  • TV: FSKC
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Two outstanding years earned Detroit Tigers ace Just Verlander his first career opening day start, but he struggled against the Kansas City Royals and his season has only gotten worse.

Verlander looks to end a personal three-game losing streak for the second time this season as the Tigers play the middle game of their series with the Royals on Wednesday night.

Verlander (1-6, 6.43 ERA) finished with a shaky line versus Kansas City (17-21) on March 31, allowing four runs and four hits in six-plus innings. He started on opening day for the first time in his career, earning that role after becoming the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter, start a World Series game, be a Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in his first two full seasons.

But Verlander is struggling through a terrible start. He has lost three straight outings, posting a 7.23 ERA in that span. Verlander also lost three straight starts from April 6-17.

The right-hander’s problems have not helped last-place Detroit (16-23), which has lost eight of 10 and all four of its games to Kansas City this season.

In his last start, Verlander gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings as Detroit lost 5-1 at home to Boston on Thursday night. He now returns to the road, where he has given up 15 runs in 19 2-3 innings en route to losing all three of his outings.

Verlander, though, is 6-0 with a 2.65 ERA in nine career starts against Kansas City.

The Tigers got a strong outing from Nate Robertson on Tuesday night, but lost 3-2 to the Royals.

“You just don’t like to waste those kinds of pitching performances,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland told the team’s official Web site.

Royals outfielder Jose Guillen drove in a pair of runs and extended his hitting streak to five games, batting .555 (10-for-18) during that stretch. He has raised his average from .165 to .216 since May 5.

“He’s been swinging the bat pretty good the last week,” Royals second baseman Mark Grudzielanek said. “It’s important for him to do that and get some hits. … Guillen’s a great hitter and he’s had success in the league for a lot of years. He’s not going to be there (below .200). The big rallies, he’s usually going to be in the middle of it.”

Despite his lackluster average, Guillen is tied for the team lead with 19 RBIs. He has helped the Royals win consecutive games, one victory shy of matching their season high.

Kansas City lost three straight before this run, and Luke Hochevar (2-2, 4.94 ERA) was the losing pitcher in the first of those defeats. Hochevar, who will take the mound for the Royals on Wednesday, gave up four runs and five hits in seven innings as Kansas City lost 4-1 to Baltimore on Thursday night

The right-hander had won his previous two starts.

Hochevar’s only career appearance against the Tigers was on Sept. 23, allowing two runs—one earned—and two hits in 3 1-3 innings as the Royals lost 7-2.

Joakim Soria has earned saves in each of Hochevar’s two wins, and worked a perfect ninth Tuesday for his ninth save in as many opportunities. He has yet to give up an earned run.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Verlander Det vs. L. Hochevar KC
11-17 Record 6-12
4.84 ERA 5.51
163 K 72
87 BB 47
1.40 WHIP 1.47


Wednesday, May 14