The AL Central-leading Tigers try to continue their offensive surge against the second-place Kansas City Royals on Friday night while looking to remain perfect at Kauffman Stadium.
Detroit (51-37) increased its division lead to 5 1/2 games over the Royals (47-44) and set a season best for runs with Thursday's 16-4 victory. Victor Martinez, hitting .328 with a team-best 21 homers, sat out his fourth straight game with a strain in his lower right side, and manager Brad Ausmus isn't sure if he'll be able to play in this series or participate in Tuesday's All-Star game.
J.D. Martinez is hitting .429 during a nine-game hitting streak after going 2 for 3 with three RBIs. Hunter hit a solo homer and is batting .485 with three homers and 13 RBIs over his last eight.
Miguel Cabrera drove in three runs for the Tigers, who have scored 34 runs during their three-game winning streak. They've outscored the Royals 42-12 while winning all four meetings in Kansas City, but Hunter said the latest rout wasn't about sending a message.
''It's not a big series. It's just another series. It was no statement,'' Hunter said. ''It's a good win because it's in the division, but we weren't trying to send a statement.''
Kansas City has dropped four of six and will send Danny Duffy to the mound to try and slow Detroit's offense.
Duffy (5-8, 2.86 ERA) went 3-2 with a 1.69 ERA over his previous six starts before giving up a season-worst 10 hits in six innings of Sunday's 4-1 loss to Cleveland. His four runs allowed matched the amount he gave up over his last four outings.
Manager Ned Yost still felt Duffy did enough to help his club.
"This was a good outing for Danny," Yost said. "A four-run outing by your starter is not insurmountable. He did a real fine job."
The left-hander's first start since returning from Tommy John surgery came against the Tigers on May 3, when he gave up one run and two hits but walked four in four innings of a 9-2 loss.
Duffy was much better against Detroit on June 19, giving up two runs and three hits in seven innings in a 2-1 loss. Anibal Sanchez opposed him in that outing, and the two will square off again in this contest.
Sanchez (5-3, 3.18) allowed one run in seven innings in his duel with Duffy, but he's struggled at times since. He's 1-1 with a 6.50 ERA over his last three starts after allowing a season-worst seven runs while walking four in 5 2-3 innings of Saturday's 7-2 loss to Tampa Bay.
The right-hander took a no-hitter into the fifth before he unraveled.
"We talked about finishing hitters," Sanchez said. "I had a lot of situations where I had the count 0-2 and I'm not able to finish a guy and it took me like three, four, five pitches after that."
Another matchup with the Royals may be what Sanchez needs to get back on track. He's 4-2 with a 1.04 ERA in six career starts against them while not allowing more than one run in any outing.
All-Star Salvador Perez is 0 for 12 lifetime against Sanchez, who will face a Kansas City lineup without Alex Gordon - also out for the All-Star game with a sprained right wrist.
Billy Butler homered in Thursday's loss.
''We'll just throw it away and move on,'' Yost said. ''We'll just let it go."
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