Tigers-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

When Drew Smyly made his major league debut last week, the Detroit Tigers won.

In his second start, the highly touted left-hander would like to stay in the game long enough to get credit for a victory.

Smyly seeks to follow a dominant outing from ace Justin Verlander with one of his own Tuesday as the Tigers continue their three-game visit to the Kansas City Royals.

Despite never having pitched above Double-A prior to this season, Smyly (0-0, 2.25 ERA) won the fifth spot in Detroit's rotation thanks to an excellent spring training. That decision looked questionable when he allowed two walks and a single to his first three batters Thursday versus Tampa Bay, but Smyly escaped the inning unscathed.

He wound up limiting the Rays to one run, four hits and three walks in the Tigers' 7-2 victory, but got taken out after four innings in which he threw 90 pitches.

"I had an awesome time out there,'' Smyly said. "Obviously, only going four innings isn't good. You want to go deep into the game, but I threw too many pitches. With everything going on, though, I feel pretty good about it.''

Verlander did more than go deep in Monday's series opener. He lasted the complete game, throwing 131 pitches and leaving the bases loaded with Royals in the bottom of the ninth of a 3-2 win for Detroit (7-3) by striking out Alex Gordon.

Manager Jim Leyland decided after the eighth inning that Verlander would pitch the entire ninth, and he didn't waver after the reigning AL MVP got in a jam.

"That's just the way he is,'' Verlander said. "He's relaxed in a situation where a lot of guys might be panicking. And he might be panicking on the inside, but he doesn't show it.''

Leyland likely isn't panicking yet over third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who went 0 for 3 on Monday and is 0 for 19 over his last five games after going 8 for 17 with three homers and nine RBIs in his first five.

Tuesday may present an ideal matchup for Cabrera to bust out of his slump. He's 9 for 18 with three homers, two doubles, seven walks and a .640 on-base percentage lifetime off probable Royals starter Bruce Chen (0-0, 1.64).

Chen is 4-3 with a 5.95 ERA in his career versus Detroit but has won his last three starts against the Tigers, including two last year. The left-hander has pitched effectively in his first two starts of 2012, allowing two earned runs over 11 innings and limiting opponents to a .184 batting average, but has failed to record a decision while getting two runs of support.

The Royals (3-7) are trying to avoid their first six-game skid since June 18-24.

"We need a win in the clubhouse, obviously. We need one,'' said Danny Duffy, who allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings Monday. "We need one for the town, for the fans and we need to start rolling. We're close. We're there. I'm so confident in this team. We're bummed out, obviously, tonight. But we've got a lot of fire in our eyes.''