The Tigers look to defeat the Royals for the first time in 10 months when the teams open a three-game series Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
Detroit (49-49), considered a preseason favorite to compete for its first division crown since 1987, is third in the Central, six games behind Minnesota and 6 1/2 back of first-place Chicago.
The Tigers might be in better position if not for an 0-6 record against the fourth-place Royals (45-54). Detroit, which has been outscored 26-11 in the season series, dropped all three games at Kansas City from May 13-15 after winning 15 of its previous 18 visits there.
The Tigers produced 10 hits in beating Baltimore 5-1 on Sunday to gain a split in a four-game road set.
Detroit hit .308 with eight homers and 25 runs during the series.
Magglio Ordonez, who went 2-for-5 with a solo home run Sunday, is batting .356 (16-for-45) with three homers and 10 RBIs in his last 11 games.
The right fielder has struggled along with his team against the Royals, though, going 6-for-24 (.250) with no homers and one RBI in the season series. He posted a .385 average (25-for-65) with two homers and 13 RBIs against Kansas City a year ago.
In need of a fifth starter, the Tigers will give Zach Miner (3-3, 4.23 ERA) a chance to claim the role.
The right-hander will get his first start of 2008, after being used 32 times out of the bullpen. He’s been impressive in relief over his last 19 games, going 2-1 with a 0.68 ERA after posting a 1-2 record and 9.33 ERA in his first 13 appearances of the season.
Miner has started 17 games over three seasons, going 7-7 with a 5.08 ERA. He hasn’t started a game since a loss at Boston on May 17, 2007.
Miner is 0-2 with an 8.36 ERA in eight games - two starts - against Kansas City. Both losses came in starts, as he was pounded for 10 runs and 13 hits in 4 2-3 total innings.
The Royals are looking to win a third consecutive game after beating the White Sox 8-7 on Sunday to win that three-game series.
They’ll give the ball to Luke Hochevar (6-7, 5.10), who seeks his second consecutive win.
The right-hander was solid in his last outing on July 11, yielding one run and five hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win over Seattle. That performance came after he lost consecutive starts while getting reached for 13 runs and 15 hits in 10 innings.
“After a couple of rough outings, the way you get your confidence back, the way you get back on the saddle is by trusting your talent,” Hochevar said. “I trusted my stuff. I was aggressive in the strike zone.”
Hochevar is 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in career two games - one start - against the Tigers. He beat them at home on May 14, allowing four hits in six innings of a 2-0 victory.