It took the Detroit Tigers seven games to finally beat the Kansas City Royals this season. Now, the surging Tigers look to sweep their AL Central foes when they conclude a three-game set Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Detroit (51-49) braved a 2-hour, 20-minute rain delay to beat Kansas City 7-1 on Tuesday for its third straight victory and fifth in its last seven contests. The Tigers are 2-6 against the Royals (45-56) this season, but look to sweep a series in Kansas City for a fourth consecutive year.
Over their last 40 games, the Tigers are 27-13, the most wins in the majors over that stretch. Detroit is 5 1/2 games out of first place in the division and 4 1/2 back of second.
“It will be interesting to see what we can do in the second half,” said Detroit’s Placido Polanco, who homered and drove in a pair of runs Tuesday.
Magglio Ordonez went 3-for-5 with two RBIs for the Tigers, who pounded out 12 hits one night after recording 18 in a 19-4 win over the Royals. Ordonez, who was not in the lineup Monday, is batting .380 (19-for-50) with 12 RBIs in his last 12 games, but is 3-for-21 against Kansas City’s scheduled Wednesday starter Zack Greinke.
Greinke (7-6, 3.90 ERA) looks to bounce back from his worst outing of the season after he allowed seven runs - six in the first inning - and 11 hits in three innings of a 9-5 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
“Five pitches, six pitches, five hits or five people on base. So before you knew it, it was really bad,” said Greinke, who is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in his last four starts since beating Colorado on June 24.
The right-hander is 6-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 12 starts versus Detroit and has allowed three runs over 13 innings in two outings against the Tigers in 2008.
While neither of Kansas City’s two previous starters made it past the fifth inning in the first two games of the set, the Royals’ bullpen has not helped after allowing 15 earned runs in nine innings during that span.
“We haven’t pitched well against this club,” Royals manager Trey Hillman said. “Eight of their nine hitters are hot. We just have to pitch.”
Detroit counters with Armando Galarraga (7-4, 3.41), who tries to avoid a third consecutive loss when he makes his first start against the Royals. He allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-4 loss at Baltimore on Friday.
“Every bad pitch he threw, he paid for it,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of the rookie right-hander, who is 0-2 with a 4.34 ERA in his last five starts since last winning at San Francisco on June 18.
Mark Grudzielanek went 3-for-4 and drove in Kansas City’s lone run, while rookie shortstop Mike Aviles extended his hitting streak to 12 games during which he is hitting .423 (22-for-52) with 10 RBIs.