Royals-Tigers Preview

The Associated Press

The schedule-makers certainly didn't do the Kansas City Royals any favors.

The Royals' 15-game swing against opponents with winning records continues Saturday when they seek to snap a three-game losing streak against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Kansas City had won four of its previous six over Detroit and Cleveland, but an off day coupled with a 6-3 loss to the Tigers on Friday has dropped the Royals (77-70) 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the American League's final wild-card spot.

Worse yet for the Royals, Miguel Cabrera may finally be coming out of a month-long slump with a fourth-inning double. He was 3 for 22 while struggling with hip, back and abdominal injuries.

"I think those four or five days off, his timing was off just a hair, but I saw signs in Chicago (Sept. 9-11) that it's close to right there," manager Jim Leyland told the team's official website.

Since Cabrera first exited a game due to his ailments on Aug. 29, Prince Fielder has more than shouldered the load - batting .423 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 14 games - and hit a go-ahead two-run home run Friday. With his three RBIs Friday, he surpassed 100 for the sixth time in seven seasons.

"If I'm healthy and can play every day, that's what I'm really focused on," Fielder said. "When you're out there every day, you've got a chance to do all those things."

Though Ervin Santana (8-9, 3.35 ERA) has struggled of late, he's fared well versus Detroit (85-62). His seven career wins against the Tigers are his most against any team outside of the AL West, where Santana spent his first eight years.

Since 2008, he is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA against the Tigers, whom he limited to two hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 1-0 win July 19. Santana, though, is 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA over his last seven starts after being reached for four runs - three earned - in seven innings of a 4-3 loss at Cleveland on Monday.

Though Santana allowed three home runs for the second time in four starts, the right-hander didn't seem too concerned.

"I only made one bad pitch to (Asdrubal) Cabrera," said Santana, who had given up only six homers his previous 15 starts. "The other two home runs were good pitches, but they got a hold of them."

Since allowing two runs or fewer in five straight starts from July 12-Aug. 7, Doug Fister (12-8, 3.77) has struggled with consistency and split his last four outings. After pitching seven scoreless innings to earn a win over Boston on Sept. 2, he was roughed up by Kansas City on Sunday, giving up five runs in 6 1-3 innings.

Fister recorded his first 14 outs easily enough - yielding a single run - but a pair of two-out hits in the fifth preceded Eric Hosmer's go-ahead three-run homer in a 5-2 defeat.

Hosmer is batting .435 over a six-game hitting streak and has a .328 average against the Tigers this season.

Billy Butler has hit safely in eight straight games versus Detroit, batting .400 in that span. He is 11 for 33 against Fister, including 5 for 14 this season.

The Royals have 18 hits off Fister in his last 12 2-3 innings against them.

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