The Detroit Tigers wasted a key chance to move atop the AL Central.
They'll hope their ace can get them back on track.
A day after being surprisingly swept in a doubleheader, Justin Verlander will try to help the Tigers bounce back Monday night when they host a Kansas City Royals club that caused plenty of problems for the reigning MVP last month.
Detroit (80-72) is one game back of Central-leading Chicago heading into the final 10 games of the regular season as it looks to win its second straight division title.
The White Sox fell 4-1 at Los Angeles on Sunday as their losing streak reached five games, but the Tigers failed to take advantage. Detroit lost 10-4 to Minnesota in the first game of its doubleheader before dropping the nightcap 2-1 in 10 innings.
"It's not disappointing," manager Jim Leyland insisted. "We're one game back with 10 games to play."
Verlander (15-8, 2.74 ERA) will try to give Detroit a chance to turn the division race into a dead heat, but the White Sox are opening a three-game home set with last-place Cleveland - a team they've beaten five times in a row.
Though Verlander is 14-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 22 career meetings with the Royals (70-82), he turned in his worst performance against Kansas City - and easily his worst start of the season - on the road Aug. 28. The 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner surrendered a career high-tying eight earned runs and 12 hits with six strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings, leaving without a decision.
Verlander had been 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his previous six starts against the Royals.
The right-hander should have a good chance to re-establish that success at home, where he's 6-0 with a 1.48 ERA over his past eight starts - all Detroit wins.
He wasn't at his most dominant Wednesday against Oakland, grinding through six inning and throwing 122 pitches. But he held the A's to five hits in a 6-2 win, extending his personal scoreless streak to 13 innings over his last two outings, winning both.
Miguel Cabrera is hitting .377 with seven homers and 17 RBIs during his 13-game hitting streak as he builds his case to be the Tigers' second MVP winner in as many years.
He's also become a serious contender to win baseball's first Triple Crown in 45 years, leading the league with a .331 average and 133 RBIs while tying Texas' Josh Hamilton with 42 homers.
It's been a while since he's gone deep against the Royals, who saw their four-game winning streak end with a 15-4 loss to Cleveland on Sunday. Despite hitting .314 in the last 26 games in this series, Cabrera hasn't homered in that stretch.
The last time he hit one out against Kansas City was April 10, 2011, against the pitcher he'll see on the mound Monday. Cabrera is 16 for 32 with two homers and four doubles against Luke Hochevar , his highest average off any pitcher he's faced at least 23 times.
Hochevar (8-14, 5.40) didn't do the Tigers any favors Tuesday, surrendering three solo homers in seven innings of a 3-2 loss to the White Sox.
The right-hander is 1-5 with a 6.33 ERA in his last eight starts, and was roughed up in his only season meeting with Detroit on May 1. He lasted four innings at Comerica Park that day while getting tagged for a career high-tying nine runs and 12 hits.
The Tigers were swept in three games at Kansas City in the most recent series, starting with Verlander's loss, but they won seven of the first eight meetings this season.
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 18, 2012||Luis Mendoza||Day-to-Day||Strep throat|
|September 14, 2012||Lorenzo Cain||Day-to-Day||Left game - Strained right hamstring|
|August 18, 2012||Chris Getz||15-Day DL||Broken left thumb|
|August 17, 2012||Chris Getz||Day-to-Day||Left game - fractured left thumb|
|July 28, 2012||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained right knee|
|July 05, 2012||Luke Hochevar||Day-to-Day||Sprained right ankle|
|September 18, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left game - right shoulder fatigue|
|September 16, 2012||Austin Jackson||Day-to-Day||Sore left ankle|
|September 11, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained right quadriceps|
|August 23, 2012||Doug Fister||Day-to-Day||Tightness in right groin|
|August 23, 2012||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right ankle soreness|
|August 01, 2012||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
DETROIT (AP) -- The potential tying run was on third with one out in the fifth inning, and Justin Verlander was suddenly in pain. A routine throw back to the pitcher had gone awry, and the Detroit ace hurt his non-throwing shoulder lunging to stop it.
It looked like the kind of freakish bad break the Tigers could ill afford.
"With a guy on third and the ball coming back on the ground, I've got to try to stop it," Verlander said. "So I went down to get it, and my body just wasn't prepared for that. All my weight landed on my left arm, and just kind of jarred my shoulder a little bit. I felt it for a little bit and then it went away."
Verlander was able to stay in the game, and not only did he pitch out of that jam, but he went eight innings to help Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on Monday night. The Tigers remained a game behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox, who beat Cleveland 5-4.
The Tigers were swept in a doubleheader by Minnesota on Sunday but steadied themselves behind their top pitcher. Verlander (16-8) had little trouble with the Royals, who knocked him around for eight runs and 12 hits last month.
The right-hander allowed two runs and nine hits this time, striking out eight without a walk. Jose Valverde pitched the ninth.
Verlander threw 114 pitches, 89 for strikes.
"He just threw strike after strike after strike. There's not much you can do when he's throwing like that," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We had a couple good at-bats against him, but he was extremely good tonight. You just need to get lucky when he's going that well, and we didn't."
Luke Hochevar (8-15) yielded six runs - five earned - and 12 hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Alex Gordon homered for Kansas City.
The Tigers play three more games at home against the Royals before finishing the regular season with a six-game trip to Minnesota and Kansas City.
Prince Fielder hit a solo homer for Detroit in the second, and Alex Avila added an RBI double later in the inning.
Gordon's 12th home run in the fourth cut the lead in half, and the Royals appeared poised to tie it in the fifth when they put runners on first and third with one out.
With Jarrod Dyson batting, Verlander hurt his shoulder in bizarre fashion. Avila, the catcher, was making a routine throw back to the pitcher when his arm collided with the hand of plate umpire Bill Welke, causing the ball to scoot low across the ground in front of the mound. Verlander lunged to stop it and grimaced as he got up.
"I gave myself a little bit of a scare - and everybody else," Verlander said. "But it's my left arm. Maybe I can throw with it just dangling. Who knows?"
He struck out Dyson and Alcides Escobar to end the threat.
The Tigers padded their lead in the bottom half with another wacky play. With runners on first and second, Austin Jackson hit an RBI double down the right-field line, and another run came home when Jeff Francoeur 's throw to second skipped away for an error. Gordon, the left fielder, retrieved the ball and easily threw out Jackson trying to advance to third - earning an assist on a play that began on the opposite side of the outfield.
"We try to entertain everybody," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We try to give everybody a good piece of entertainment."
Andy Dirks made it 5-1 with an RBI single in the sixth.
Billy Butler had three hits for the Royals, including an RBI single in the eighth. He's hitting .396 (21 for 53) off Verlander.
Dirks answered with another RBI single of his own.
Miguel Cabrera singled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games, but the Detroit slugger no longer leads the American League in home runs. He fell behind Josh Hamilton of Texas, meaning Cabrera will need to make up ground in his Triple Crown chase.
NOTES: Leyland won his 600th game as Detroit's manager. ... Verlander took over the major league lead with 231 strikeouts, three more than teammate Max Scherzer . ... Hochevar allowed nine runs in four innings against the Tigers on May 1. ... Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-6) faces Kansas City LHP Bruce Chen (11-12) on Tuesday night.