The season is only five games old, but there's already a different vibe around the Detroit Tigers.
The team with the worst record in baseball last season has gotten off to a 3-2 start, including a 4-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday. The same clubs play the third game of the four-game series on Wednesday night in Detroit.
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who played for American League Central rival Minnesota last season, hit his first homer as a Tiger in the Tuesday win. Two other offseason additions, first baseman C.J. Cron and catcher Austin Romine, hit key home runs in the other Detroit victories.
"We're hungry here," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We know how many games there are, and we talked about trying to get off to a good start. We know we're going to have some aches and pains with some of the young kids, trying to continue to build those guys in, but we've got enough vets that know how to play. They're rooting for each other, and they're pretty intense in the dugout."
Matthew Boyd, Detroit's Wednesday starter, will try to bounce back from a disappointing outing in the team's opener at Cincinnati on Friday. Boyd allowed four runs on six hits in five innings. The Reds grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Boyd walked a batter and hit two others.
"My job is to be better from this, and I will be better," he said after the game. "I know what I need to do to get better in that sense."
The Tigers' ace prides himself in making quick in-game adjustments, but he needed a couple of innings in his first outing to figure things out.
"It was pretty much the whole package," Boyd said. "Usually, I go out with the ability to make the adjustment when something is going wrong. I can feel that. (Friday) there was just something wrong right in the foundation. I had a little mechanical twitch, just how I lined up on the rubber and I didn't make that adjustment really until the third inning."
The Royals have often given Boyd fits. In 19 starts against them, Boyd is 5-9 with a 6.46 ERA.
Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield has worn him out. Merrifield has a .513 average in 39 official at-bats against the left-hander, including eight extra-base hits.
Merrifield has enjoyed the latest trip to Comerica Park. In the first two games of the series, he has four hits, including a pair of homers, while driving in six runs.
Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy will oppose Boyd. He also lost his first start, giving up two runs on three hits in 4 1/3 innings at Cleveland on Friday. Duffy was pulled after throwing just 65 pitches, and he hopes he'll be given the chance to get deeper into the game in his second outing.
"I always want the ball," he said. "I'll just leave it at that. People who know me know that I go all out. I built up my pitches, got to 90 (in his last exhibition outing). But at the end of the day, it's not my call."
Duffy has faced Detroit 27 times in his career, more than any other team, including 24 starts. He is 8-10 with a 4.59 ERA in those outings.
--Field Level Media