Tigers-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

Justin Verlander has not been very sharp of late, but he's still putting the Detroit Tigers in position to win.

The right-hander tries for a fifth straight winning start by continuing his success against the host Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.

Verlander (8-4, 3.71 ERA) has won four in a row despite giving up 32 hits and posting a 4.85 ERA. He's allowed three runs over seven innings in each of his last three starts, most recently during Friday's 7-5 win over Cleveland.

"I've still got a ways to go," Verlander told the Tigers' official website after he allowed all his runs in the fifth inning. "I've still got some work to do. But it's nice to be able to go out there and get wins for our ballclub."

Fortunately for Verlander, Detroit (36-27) has scored 34 runs in those four outings. He's received an average 7.20 runs of support this season.

Verlander is 15-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 24 starts versus Kansas City (29-33), including 6-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last nine. He gave up two runs over seven innings of an 8-3, 10-inning loss to the Royals on April 25.

The Tigers ace is 9-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 14 starts at Kauffman Stadium, but was tagged for eight runs and 12 hits in 5 2-3 innings while not factoring in the decision of a 9-8 loss Aug. 28.

Scheduled Kansas City starter James Shields (2-6, 2.81) yielded three runs and five hits in eight innings in the April win over Verlander and the Tigers. That dropped his ERA to 3.63 while going 5-1 in 10 starts versus Detroit.

"Whenever you have some success against a team, you always have some confidence, but I don't look back at what I've done in the past," he told the Royals' official website.

Maybe that's because Shields hasn't won since April 30, but owns a 2.65 ERA while going 0-4 in seven starts since then. He's yielded three runs in 14 innings as the Royals won his last two outings. The eight runs Kansas City has totaled in those two equaled what it scored in Shields' previous five.

The right-hander gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings of a 4-2 win over Houston on Friday.

"He threw great again and is about as consistent as they come," teammate Billy Butler said. "He competes his tail off out there. It's unfortunate we couldn't get him a win (Friday), but it's a team win. If he can pitch like that, he'll win his fair share of games."

Kansas City's season-high six-game winning streak ended with a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Tuesday. Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly snapped a tie in the eighth to help send the Tigers to their seventh win in 10 contests.

It was the first time in 21 innings the Kansas City bullpen allowed a run.

Detroit's Omar Infante added three hits, and is batting .375 in eight games this month. He's 10 for 19 in his last five against the Royals.

Butler is batting .418 with two homers against Verlander, but went 0 for 3 and was ejected for arguing a call after he struck out with a runner on second in the ninth Tuesday.

He's 1 for 10 in three games since going 9 for 18 in the previous five.

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