Looking to win a third consecutive start, Penny takes the hill for Detroit as it tries to match its longest winning streak from last season in Saturday’s matinee matchup with the visiting Kansas City Royals.
Detroit (21-18), which won seven straight June 11-18, is on the verge of matching that run after Verlander, fresh off his second career no-hitter, carried another into the sixth inning of Friday’s 3-1 series-opening victory over Kansas City (20-18).
Jhonny Peralta(notes), batting .419 over a nine-game hitting streak, homered for the third consecutive game and Victor Martinez(notes) went 1 for 3 with a run scored. Martinez has hit safely in his last 12 games, batting .488 with two homers and 14 RBIs.
The Tigers, who have outscored opponents 46-17 during their six-game run, have won nine of 10 with their starters going 8-1 with a 1.87 ERA. Verlander is 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in that span.
After going 1-3 with a 6.11 ERA over his first six starts, Penny (3-3, 4.78 ERA), too, has played a key role in that winning stretch, compiling a 1.32 ERA en route to winning both his outings.
The right-hander gave up two runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 5-2 victory at Toronto.
“What you saw is exactly the reason we wanted to get him,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He gave us some innings and gave us a chance to win the game.
“He pitched a good game his last start and he pitched a good game (Sunday). Hopefully he can get on a little bit of a roll.”
Penny, who has just two total strikeouts in those last two games, has been able to succeed thanks in part to stellar placement of his pitches.
“He was just spotting his fastball in and out, the two-seamer in, the four-seamer out there,” Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill(notes) said. “When you’ve got a (pitcher) locating them, no matter how hard he throws, it’s going to be tough on the hitters.”
Penny, who hasn’t faced the Royals since 2009, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against them.
Kansas City, which leads the AL with 187 runs, looked like anything but one of the league’s best offenses Friday, as Billy Butler(notes), Jeff Francoeur(notes), Eric Hosmer(notes) and Mike Aviles(notes) - the team’s 4-5-6-7 hitters - went a combined 0 for 13.
Francoeur, though, accredited much of their struggles to Verlander’s dominance.
“What’s really unfair to the hitters … he does such a good job of staying at 93, 94 early on,” Francoeur said. “About the fifth, sixth, seventh, he starts to rev it up to 98, 99 … It’s just tough.”
Royals probable starter Jeff Francis(notes) (0-4, 5.09) is 0-4 with a 7.11 ERA in his last five games. The left-hander surrendered three runs - two earned - and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 5-2 loss to Oakland on Sunday.
Francis, who is 0-2 with an 8.36 ERA in three road starts this season, gave up five runs - four earned - and 11 hits in his only start against the Tigers - a 7-6 loss at Comerica Park on June 28, 2008, while with Colorado.