The Detroit Tigers’ timely six-game winning streak has helped them put a stranglehold on the AL Central, and with three games this week in Kansas City, their lead could get even bigger.
Minnesota’s win Monday trimmed the idle Tigers’ division lead to 6 1/2 games, but Detroit is feeling confident after a three-game road sweep of Tampa Bay over the weekend.
The Tigers (75-61) won Sunday’s finale in dramatic fashion, with Brandon Inge’s(notes) ninth-inning grand slam erasing a two-run deficit in a 5-3 victory. The team’s last five victories have had a margin of two or fewer runs.
“That’s just the kind of ball we’ve been playing the past few series,” right-hander Edwin Jackson(notes) told the Tigers’ official Web site. “Hopefully it’s just a testament to how September is going to play out. Right now, everybody’s having fun, everybody’s loose, and we’re out there like little kids again.”
Detroit won seven straight games from May 15-22 and again from June 18-25, and they should have a good chance to match those streaks based on Tuesday’s pitching matchup.
Porcello (12-8, 4.18 ERA) will be looking for his third straight win, and he can become the first rookie to win 13 games. The 20-year-old turned in seven-plus strong innings in a 4-2 win over Cleveland on Wednesday, allowing two runs and five hits without a walk.
The right-hander has split two starts at Kauffman Stadium this year, winning the most recent one May 27 after giving up two runs in six innings of a 8-3 victory.
He figures to have the advantage against Bruce Chen(notes), who will be making his first start since Aug. 6. That night, Chen (1-6, 5.24) tossed 6 2-3 innings in an 8-2 win over Seattle to earn his first victory since 2005.
“It feels forever, very long,” Chen said. “Every time I was out there, people kept reminding me, last win in October 2005. Now they have to say it was Aug. 6, 2009. Let’s start a new streak now.”
The left-hander has been pitching out of the bullpen since then, but he’ll start in place of the injured Brian Bannister(notes). In his previous start against the Tigers on July 7, he allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings of an 8-5 loss.
The defeats have been frequent for the AL-worst Royals (52-85) lately, as they’ve dropped 13 of 18. But after scoring four total runs in the first three games of their series against the Los Angeles Angels, they won 6-3 on Monday to avoid a sweep.
“You don’t want to be swept by anybody, so, yeah, there’s significance,” manager Trey Hillman said.
The Royals haven’t won back-to-back games since July 27-28 at Baltimore, and they are 5-20 at home since the All-Star break.
The Tigers are 4-2 at Kauffman Stadium this year and 8-4 against the Royals overall.