That success seems likely to continue with Justin Verlander on the hill.
Verlander looks to win a sixth consecutive start against Kansas City in the conclusion of this rain-shortened two game set Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
After Monday’s series opener was postponed, Detroit (12-11) got back to its dominant ways against Kansas City (6-16) with Tuesday’s 9-3 win. The Tigers, who have taken five in a row and 14 of 19 from the Royals, scored five in the first inning and never looked back.
“That was the Tigers team that I’ve been expecting to see,” manager Jim Leyland said. “It won’t happen every night, obviously, but tonight we had action, we’re playing a good game and everyone is running around the bases. That puts everyone in a good mood.”
Things aren’t about to get any easier for Kansas City with Verlander (2-1, 2.41 ERA) on the hill.
Last season’s AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP is 14-2 with a 2.37 ERA lifetime against the Royals - his highest win total against any opponent.
Verlander, who has gone 5-0 while limiting Kansas City to a .194 average over seven career home starts, has compiled a 1.86 ERA in winning each of his last five outings in this series overall.
In the latest meeting, Verlander struck out nine and recorded his first complete game of the season during a 3-2 road victory April 16.
“He was locating the outer half, going in and out and reaching back for triple digits when he wanted it,” Royals designated hitter Billy Butler told MLB.com. “There’s a reason why he’s one of the best, if not the best, right-handers in the game.”
While Butler has gone 16 for 43 (.372) with a pair of homers off Verlander, few of his teammates have fared well. Alex Gordon is 5 for 35 (.143) with 14 strikeouts against Verlander, Alcides Escobar and Eric Hosmer are both 1 for 11 and Mike Moustakas is 1 for 9.
After getting tagged for a season-worst five runs over six innings of Friday’s 7-6 walk-off loss at Yankee Stadium, Verlander is surely looking forward to getting back home, where he’s surrendered just four earned runs over three starts spanning 22 1-3 innings.
Verlander will be opposed by Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 6.75), who has had a rough go of it in three starts since winning his Kansas City debut. The left-hander has been plagued by a lack of control and was especially bad during a 4-3 loss at Cleveland on April 24, as he gave up four runs and issued a career high-tying seven walks over 4 2-3 innings.
“He had no fastball command, but a good breaking ball,” manager Ned Yost said. “He starts to command that fastball and he’s going to be in great shape.”
Sanchez allowed two runs, four hits and three walks over five innings but didn’t factor in a 4-3 loss to Detroit on April 18.
Hosmer, meanwhile, went 0 for 4 on Tuesday to extend his hitless streak to 19 at-bats.
“He crushed three balls and didn’t get anything out of it,” Yost said of Hosmer, who’s now hitting .180. “That’s what happens when you are in a streak like that.”