An outstanding stretch by their rotation has the Detroit Tigers on the verge of their longest home winning streak in 64 years.
Following its 4-1 victory over in Thursday's series opener, Detroit starters have compiled a 1.02 ERA during the team's run at Comerica Park, yielding nine runs and 46 hits over 70 2-3 innings. The AL Central-leading Tigers (71-49), who moved 6 1-2 games ahead of idle Cleveland and 8 1-2 in front of Kansas City, haven't won 11 straight at home since Aug. 12-29, 1949.
They'll attempt to reach that mark behind Verlander (12-8, 3.57 ERA), who gave up four runs over seven innings before leaving without a decision in a 5-4 loss at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
"It was a little bit frustrating," said Verlander, whose nine strikeouts were his most since May 27. "A little bit inconsistent."
While the ace right-hander has battled through an uncharacteristically up-and-down season, he's been solid at home against the Royals. Verlander has struck out 68 over 67 2-3 innings while going 6-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 10 career home starts against the Royals, who are batting .217 against him.
He's also 15-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 26 starts overall versus the Royals, though one of those defeats came in his last outing against them. Verlander fanned only three while yielding six runs - five earned - and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 loss at Kansas City on July 20.
Billy Butler went 1 for 3 in that contest and should be happy about seeing Verlander since he's hitting .424 with two homers in 59 career at-bats against him - the highest average of anyone with at least 22 at-bats against the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner.
Kansas City has gone 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position during its three-game skid after getting 14 hits in 42 such opportunities in the four games to close out a 17-3 surge."We had a good scouting report today," Kansas City's Alex Gordon said. "When you're not hitting doubles and home runs, you've got to make something happen."
The Royals counter Verlander with Danny Duffy (0-0, 4.91), who gave up two runs and six hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 5-2 win over Minnesota in his season debut Aug. 7. The left-hander is 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers.
Kansas City will give the ball to right-hander James Shields (7-8, 3.33) in Game 2.
Shields, who held Boston to two earned runs over seven innings in beating Boston 4-3 on Sunday for his third win in four starts, is 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in his last seven road outings since losing at Houston on May 22. He's also 3-0 with a 2.90 ERA in five career starts in Detroit.
Miguel Cabrera has homered off Shields this season and is 15 for 35 (.429) with two homers lifetime.
Teammate Prince Fielder is 5 for 14 against Shields and homered for the first time since July 24 on Thursday to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Andy Dirks matched a career high with four hits and is 9 for 17 in his last five against the Royals.
Jose Alvarez (1-2, 5.03) is scheduled to make his first start since July 1 for the Tigers in Game 2. The rookie left-hander had allowed nine runs over 8 2-3 innings in his last two starts before getting sent down to Triple-A Toledo.
|Kansas City Royals|
|August 13, 2013||Mike Moustakas||Day-to-Day||Strained left calf|
|August 11, 2013||Miguel Tejada||60-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 04, 2013||David Lough||Day-to-Day||Right quad tightness|
|August 04, 2013||Salvador Perez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 31, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained lower abdomen|
|July 31, 2013||Luis Marte||15-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
|July 25, 2013||Torii Hunter||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left Achilles|
|July 23, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained left hip flexor|
|July 14, 2013||Justin Verlander||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right quadriceps tightness|
DETROIT (AP) -- Neither Danny Duffy nor his manager was giving much thought to the possibility of a no-hitter on Friday. The left-hander, who is 14 months removed from elbow surgery, was actually happy to finally give up a hit against the Tigers.
Duffy (1-0) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and beat Justin Verlander and Detroit 2-1 on a combined two-hitter in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
Duffy was called up from Triple-A Omaha to make his second big league start of the season, and didn't allow a hit until Miguel Cabrera 's hard-hit, two out single in the sixth.
"I was glad that they finally got one, honestly, because I just wanted to pitch," said Duffy, who underwent Tommy John surgery. "I wanted to protect this arm."
Manager Ned Yost wasn't about to push his pitcher.
"Even if he didn't give up a hit in the sixth, that was probably going to be his last inning anyway, because we had him for 100 pitches (he threw 96)," Yost said. "He didn't have the pitches for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
"We just wanted five innings out of him and he gave us one more than we expected."
Kelvin Herrera replaced Duff in the seventh and retired the side in order. Aaron Crow worked the eighth and surrendered Santiago's pinch-hit home run leading off the inning. Crow got the next three batters. Greg Holland pitched the ninth for his 33rd save.
Eric Hosmer homered for the Royals. Ramon Santiago hit a pinch hit home run for the Tigers.
"Would have liked to have been able to accomplish two things, win and keep the bullpen fresh," Verlander. "Just didn't happen that way. Felt like I threw the ball well. Just their guys pitched extremely well, which is they've done all year."
He allowed two runs on seven hits in eight innings. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter.
Verlander gave up Hosmer's 13th home run of the season, leading off the fourth, which gave the Royals a 1-0 lead. The left-handed hitting first baseman drilled Verlander's pitch to the opposite field and into the left-field stands beyond the Tigers' bullpen.
"Just trying to stay to the middle and not pull off anything," Hosmer said.
Verlander said Hosmer took advantage of a hanging curve.
"Yeah, it was a hanger. You don't see hanging curveballs hit the opposite field too often though. That was impressive," he said. "It wasn't like it was a question about it getting out. I didn't even watch it. Strong kid."
Kansas City made it 2-0 on consecutive doubles leading off the seventh by Justin Maxwell and Bonifacio.
Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque pitched the ninth for Detroit, combining to retire the Royals 1-2-3.
NOTE: Tigers manager Jim Leyland said it was likely that neither closer Joaquin Benoit nor late-inning reliever Bruce Rondon would be available for either games of Friday's games because of how often they've been used in the past few games. . Royals manager Ned Yost said third baseman Mike Moustakas , who has been out since leaving Monday's game with a tight calf, would do some work on the field on Friday to assess his progress. . Tigers regular DH Victor Martinez and first baseman Prince Fielder switched places for the first game. Fielder served as the DH and Martinez played first. . Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias , as he squared to attempt a bunt, was hit in the groin area by a Danny Duffy pitch leading off the third inning. Iglesias hobbled toward first base before collapsing in foul territory. He remained in the game after being attended to by trainer Kevin Rand and after he recovered. . The Royals Billy Butler continued his mastery of Verlander. Butler was 2-for-3 to run his career mark against the Tigers' star to 27-for-62 (. 435). . The scheduled starters for Friday's night portion of the doubleheader are James Shields (7-8, 3.33) for Kansas City against rookie lefthander Jose Alvarez (1-2, 5.03), who was called up from Triple-A Toledo to make the start in the twin bill.