Royals-Tigers Preview

The Associated Press

The Detroit Tigers return home slumping, losers of eight of 10 and uncertain when Delmon Young can rejoin the club.

A visit from the Kansas City Royals could provide some relief.

The Tigers look to win their fifth straight over the Royals in the opener of a three-game set Monday night.

Since sweeping a three-game series in Kansas City earlier this month, Detroit (11-11) has gone 2-8. The Tigers wrapped up their road trip by dropping two of three to the New York Yankees on a weekend marred by Young's arrest for aggravated harassment.

Young was placed on the league's restricted list Saturday and is scheduled to be examined by an independent doctor Monday, after which he could return to the team or face disciplinary action.

"We may know Monday," team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Tigers' official website. "That's when we'll get some type of feedback. I don't know what the result will be."

The absence of Young's bat in the lineup isn't necessarily Detroit's biggest problem. Despite the presence of reigning AL MVP Justin Verlander and rookie Drew Smyly, the rotation has struggled, going 2-6 with a 6.65 ERA over the last 10 games.

Max Scherzer failed to make it out of the fifth inning Sunday, giving up three runs and a career-high seven walks in a 6-2 loss.

The lone bright spot in the defeat for the Tigers was Prince Fielder's first home run since hitting two in the second game of the season.

Detroit pitchers had little trouble containing the Royals from April 16-18, allowing six runs in the series.

However, Kansas City (6-15) has shown more of a spark on offense in the last week. Following a 12-game losing streak, the Royals have won three of four, averaging 5.8 runs over the four games. They split an abbreviated two-game series in Minnesota, losing 7-4 Sunday.

The Royals, who dropped to 6-5 on the road, will try to bounce back Monday against Detroit's Duane Below (2-0, 0.00 ERA), who will make his first start of the season in place of the injured Doug Fister.

Below has pitched 12 scoreless innings of relief in five appearances this season and despite having not made a start, is tied with Verlander for the team lead in wins. He's struck out nine, walked none and given up seven hits.

The left-hander's last appearance was two innings against Seattle on Wednesday, but he's shown he has the ability to pitch deep into a game. Four days prior, he gave up four hits in six innings against the Rangers.

Below went 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in two starts last season. He pitched seven innings against the Royals in 2011, allowing four runs, six hits and three walks.

Kansas City will counter with Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98) after Jonathan Sanchez came down with flu-like symptoms.

Hochevar allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of an 8-2 win over Cleveland on Wednesday, an improvement after failing to make it through the sixth inning of his previous two starts.

The right-hander is 4-4 with a 5.25 lifetime ERA against the Tigers.

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