Verlander will attempt to become the AL’s first 17-game winner as Detroit continues its three-game set with the league’s worst team.
Detroit (75-62) fell short of seven straight wins in Tuesday night’s opener as it failed to close out the Royals (53-85), who overcame a three-run deficit and scored five times over the final four innings.
The Tigers’ lead in the AL Central remained 6 1/2 games over Minnesota as the Twins fell in Toronto.
Detroit should maintain that advantage if Verlander (16-7, 3.29 ERA) can add to his dominance over the Royals, especially at Kauffman.
The right-hander is 9-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 13 career starts versus Kansas City, and those nine wins are his most against any opponent. He’s also 5-1 with a 1.16 ERA on the road versus the Royals - his best numbers at any opposing field - and has a streak of 17 2-3 scoreless innings at Kauffman dating back to May 14, 2008.
Verlander, who has beaten Kansas City in both matchups this season, is also attempting to match a career high by winning his fourth straight start. His most recent four-start win streak was July 3-20, 2008.
Verlander allowed one run and four hits over eight innings in his most recent outing at Tampa Bay on Friday, and added seven strikeouts to his AL-leading total of 222.
In that 4-3 victory, closer Fernando Rodney(notes) gave up two runs and threw a ball into the press box after recording the final out. For that act, he earned a three-game suspension that was announced Tuesday.
Rodney, however, is expected to remain in the bullpen as Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said the team would file an appeal.
“I cannot condone what Fernando did. That was inappropriate,” Dombrowski said. “Fortunately, no one got hit, but beyond that it’s not like he was upset at anyone other than himself. He wasn’t throwing it anyone. He wasn’t throwing it in the press box on purpose.”
The two pitchers will face a Royals team that’s on a relative hot streak. Kansas City is trying for its first three-game win streak since July 4-6 and three straight home wins for the first time since a four-game run June 12-16.
“I don’t think we’ve quit at all,” manager Trey Hillman said. “I still see effort, I still see energy. Guys get depressed a little bit when you’ve lost as many games as we’ve lost, but for me - without overstating it - it takes a heck of lot of character to continue to come back against a first-place club.”
Butler is 10 for 23 (.435) with two home runs in his career against Verlander.
Right-hander Robinson Tejeda(notes) (1-1, 3.61) is expected to make his second start of the season. He did not get a decision in Friday’s 2-1 defeat to visiting Los Angeles despite pitching a one-hitter over 5 1-3 innings.
Tejeda won his only start against the Tigers on Aug. 19, 2006, with Texas.
Detroit is 4-3 at Kauffman Stadium this year and 8-5 against the Royals overall.
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