The Detroit Tigers finally are back at the .500 mark, but that hardly seems like an accomplishment given their preseason expectations.
Doug Fister isn't exactly playing up to standards, either, after a promising 2011 campaign.
Fister will look to get back on track and help Detroit to its first four-game winning streak since the early stages of the season when he faces the Kansas City Royals on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
The Tigers (42-42) had failed in their previous eight attempts to reach the .500 mark for the first time since May 15, but Delmon Young 's go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning held up in Friday's series-opening 4-2 victory.
Picked by most this spring to repeat as AL Central champs but currently four games behind the first-place White Sox, Detroit hasn't won four straight since April 15-18, a streak capped by a three-game sweep of Kansas City.
"It means we've been winning," Young told the Tigers' official website. "We look a lot better on paper at .500 in a pennant race than five games below .500 and three games out."
The Tigers acquired Fister from Seattle at the trade deadline last season. The right-hander proceeded to go 10-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances including postseason, but he's struggled in 2012.
Fister (1-6, 4.61 ERA) hasn't been able to get past the fifth inning in either of his last two outings. He gave up a career-worst nine runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 13-9 loss to Texas on June 27, then allowed six runs in four innings of Monday's 6-4 defeat against Minnesota to fall to 1-4 with a 7.82 ERA over his last five outings.
Fister also had a stint on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained left side that ended June 16.
"To be honest with you, Doug's doing his best out there," catcher Alex Avila said. "It's something that you have to be patient with him about, because he came off the DL and just started pitching. These last couple of starts, it's almost like his rehab starts."
Fister picked up a 6-3 win in relief over the Royals on Sept. 21, but he's 0-2 with a 4.05 ERA in four career starts against them.
The Royals (37-45) seek to recover with the help of Bruce Chen , who is looking to bounce back from a tough outing himself.
Chen (7-7, 4.83) had won two straight starts before giving up six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-8 loss to Minnesota on Sunday. The left-hander allowed five of the runs in the sixth while squandering a four-run lead."I feel bad," said Chen, who allowed six runs for the fifth time this season. "We had a good lead and I felt I let the game get away from me. I felt I had all of my pitches going and shouldn't have given up six runs."
Chen had a solid outing against the Tigers on April 17 despite suffering a 3-1 loss, allowing two runs in seven innings. He's 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last four starts versus Detroit.
The Tigers have won five of six meetings between the teams in 2012.
|Kansas City Royals|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|June 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Lateral strain in lower left leg|
|June 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left lateral leg strain|
|June 07, 2012||Felipe Paulino||15-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|May 26, 2012||Jarrod Dyson||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right hamstring injury|
|May 22, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Left ribcage contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left hamstring soreness|
|June 25, 2012||Alex Avila||Day-to-Day||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 19, 2012||Jose Valverde||Day-to-Day||Right wrist|
|June 11, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Severe blister, left middle finger|
|June 11, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Severe blister, left middle finger|
|June 06, 2012||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Aggravated right hamstring strain|
DETROIT (AP) -- Delmon Young is finally doing what he was expected to this season.
And, so are the Detroit Tigers .
Young hit a two-run homer to give Detroit a much-needed, four-run cushion in the seventh inning and the Tigers held on to beat the Kansas City Royals 8-7 Saturday.
The designated hitter has a three-game homer streak for the first time in his career. He cleared the fence just six times in his first 74 games this season.
"He's starting to do what I know he can do," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a run-producer and right now he's producing."
Detroit is, too, with a four-game winning streak that matches its longest of the year to give the team with high preseason expectations a winning record for the first time since May 10.
"It was just a matter of time," Young said. "We're too good of a team to struggle. We just need to win one more game to go into the break on a roll."
Prince Fielder hit a two-run, game-tying homer in the first and the Tigers took an 8-4 lead on Young's two-run shot off reliever Nate Adcock .
Detroit closer Jose Valverde started the ninth with a four-run lead and almost lost it.
Valverde walked Alex Gordon on four pitches to lead off the inning, gave up a double to Alcides Escobar and walked Eric Hosmer to load the bases. All-Star Billy Butler hit a two-run single to pull Kansas City within two runs.
Yuniesky Betancourt nearly hit a go-ahead, three-run homer on a fly center fielder Austin Jackson tracked down near the wall in left-center.
Jackson charged to make an underhanded catch on Mike Moustakas ' sacrifice fly for the second out and Jeff Francoeur struck out.
"I thought the worst-case scenario was that it gets up the gap, and it might get out," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "But Austin Jackson is just a phenomenal center fielder, and he ran it down. I didn't think he was going to get Moose's ball - I didn't think it was hit hard enough - but he got that one as well."
The Royals have lost seven of nine with one game left before hosting the All-Star game on Tuesday night.
Doug Fister (2-6) gave up four runs in six-plus innings and snapped a three-game losing streak. Fister, who has been on the disabled list twice this season, had given up 14 earned runs in his previous two starts.
"He's getting closer and closer," Leyland said. "He's going to start the first game after the break."
Fister, Darin Downs , Brayan Villarreal and Phil Coke combined to pitch a scoreless seventh. Joaquin Benoit struck out two in the eighth and Valverde pitched a shaky ninth inning.
Bruce Chen (7-8) gave up six runs for the second straight game and allowed nine hits over 3 1-3 innings.
"Bruce just never got locked in," Yost said. "And while we've been really good with our long guys this year, Nate just hung one breaking ball. Other than that, he was fantastic."
The Royals took a 2-0 lead in the first after Butler and Betancourt's RBI singles, but couldn't keep it. Jackson hit a leadoff single in the home half and scored on Fielder's 14th homer, a 382-foot shot to right center with two outs to make it 2-all.
Gerald Laird had an RBI double and Jackson, who extended his career long hitting streak to 14 games, had an RBI single in a three-run second that put the Tigers up 5-2.
Miguel Cabrera 's sacrifice fly in the fourth gave Detroit a four-run lead.
Fister gave up two runs in the first, then pitched three scoreless innings before giving up Moustakas' two-out homer in the fifth to let Kansas City pull within three runs. Betancourt's sacrifice fly in the seventh off Villarreal cut Detroit's lead to two.
NOTES: Detroit has a four-game winning streak for the third time this season. ... The Royals claimed C Adam Moore on waivers from the Seattle Mariners and optioned him to Triple-A Omaha on Saturday.