Justin Verlander has continued his domination of the Kansas City Royals this season but has yet to earn a win against them.
Verlander will try to change that while helping the Detroit Tigers start turning around their lackluster record in this year’s series Saturday night.
Verlander is 15-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 25 career starts against Kansas City and has posted a 0.64 ERA in his two matchups this season. The Tigers’ bullpen, though, has failed to hold on to leads in both games, and he’s received a total of five runs of support.
Verlander pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out eight in his most recent meeting with the Royals on June 12, but Drew Smyly and Jose Valverde combined to give up two runs in the ninth in a 3-2 loss in 10 innings.
In the final game before the All-Star break Sunday, Verlander (10-6, 3.50 ERA) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a 5-0 win over Texas.
He’s hoping a change in routine will help him earn another victory. Verlander has had only one throwing session since his last start in order to help him rest.
“I think it’s going to rejuvenate him,” pitching coach Jeff Jones told the team’s website. “It’s been a battle for him. He’s worked as hard as you can work trying to figure some things out.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in the video room working on various things that he’s gotten away from that he’s done in the past. I think he’s starting the throw the ball really well.”
The Tigers (52-43) were shut out for the seventh time this year in their return from the break Friday. They produced a season-low two hits in a 1-0 defeat to Kansas City (44-49).
Billy Butler’s RBI single in the first inning was all the Royals needed to snap a five-game skid. After going 13-5 in last season’s series, the Tigers are 2-4 against Kansas City in 2013.
“I did not know that was going to be enough,” Butler said. “It was a pitcher’s duel, old-fashioned.”
Jeremy Guthrie (8-7, 4.25) will try to help his team win consecutive games with another strong home start against Detroit. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his last three matchups with the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium.
Guthrie gave up two runs over 6 1-3 innings in a 3-2 win there June 10, his only meeting with Detroit this season.
Unlike Verlander, Guthrie wasn’t sharp in his final start before the break. He gave up five runs over seven innings in a 5-3 loss in Cleveland last Saturday.
Four of those runs came on one swing from Lonnie Chisenhall in the sixth inning. The grand slam was the 22nd homer that Guthrie has allowed this season.
“Jeremy was really good, really good tonight,” manager Ned Yost said. “I thought that inning just kind of developed.”
The performance dropped the right-hander to 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA in his last six starts. Guthrie is 0-1 with an 11.42 ERA in his last two home outings after going 5-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his first six this season.
Butler has more hits off Verlander than any other batter, going 24 for 57 (.421) with two homers and 10 RBIs.