Off to their best start in three seasons, the Kansas City Royals are enjoying 2011. They’re hoping that success continues away from home.
The Royals open the road portion of their schedule Friday when they’ll try to ruin the Detroit Tigers’ home opener.
A 10-7, 12-inning loss to the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday snapped Kansas City’s four-game winning streak and prevented them from winning an AL-record five straight in their final at-bat to open the season.
However, the Royals (4-2) are pleased with their spot in the standings - tied atop the Central with Chicago and Cleveland.
“They were playing great baseball all through the spring and they’ve brought it up here with them,” said manager Ned Yost.
The majors’ youngest team, averaging 27.2 years old on opening day, Kansas City is also averaging 5.8 runs, leads all teams with 14 stolen bases, and has already recorded its longest winning streak since a five-game run from Sept. 7-11, 2009.
The Royals, though, do not have much history of road success, losing 44 or more away from home in each of the last seven seasons. They went 29-52 in 2010, dropping five of nine at Comerica Park.
The Tigers return home for six games following a season-opening trip that ended with Thursday’s 9-5 loss to Baltimore. Detroit lost two of three to the New York Yankees to begin the season.
“We played six games and we’re 2-4. That’s what we deserve to be,” said manager Jim Leyland. “(Friday), we’ll try to make it 3-4. If we pitch well, we’ll have a shot.”
Max Scherzer(notes) (1-0, 10.80 ERA) will try to get the Tigers off to another quick start in Detroit. Last season, the club swept its first series at home for the second straight season and finished tied for the majors’ second-best home record at 52-29.
Scherzer, 8-2 with a 1.96 ERA in his final 12 home starts in 2010, was tagged for a career-high four home runs in five innings of Sunday’s 10-7 victory over the Yankees.
The right-hander is 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts against the Royals. He threw 7 2-3 innings of scoreless two-hit ball in a 4-2 home win over Kansas City on Sept. 22.
Kyle Davies(notes) (0-0, 6.75), who lost that matchup after giving up four runs in eight innings, also will make his second start. The right-hander surrendered four runs and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
Even if Davies doesn’t have his best stuff, Yost can still count on rookie relievers Nate Adcock(notes), Tim Collins(notes) and Aaron Crow(notes), who have struck out 13 in 10 1-3 scoreless innings, before bringing in closer Joakim Soria(notes).
Detroit’s bullpen had a 3.29 ERA before allowing a season-high five runs Thursday.
Already without reliever Joel Zumaya(notes) (right elbow), the Tigers’ bullpen will likely lean heavily on Daniel Schlereth(notes), Brad Thomas(notes) and rookie Brayan Villarreal(notes) along with Joaquin Benoit(notes) and closer Jose Valverde(notes). Right-hander Ryan Perry(notes) was placed on the disabled list Thursday with an infection and inflammation in his left eye.
Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera(notes), batting .381 with three homers and seven RBIs, hit .354 with four home runs and 15 RBIs against the Royals last season. He is 10 for 37 with three homers versus Davies.