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) -- James Shields and Danny Duffy were too much for the Detroit Tigers ' offense.
Shields allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings and was part of a combined four-hit shutout in Kansas City's 3-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night to give the Royals a sweep of a day-night doubleheader.
Kansas City won the first game 2-1 as Duffy took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and pitched a combined two-hitter.
"Huge day for us. Shields came back and, basically, matched the outing that Duffy had," said Eric Hosmer , who homered in each game.
Royals pitching held the Tigers to a run and six hits combined in the two games.
"You play 18 innings against a team like that and give up one run, you're doing something special," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he isn't worried about his AL Central-leading club.
"It's not a concern. We got what we got. It's pretty simple," he said. "Both teams got great pitching, and we didn't must enough offense."
The Royals gained two games on Detroit to move within 6 1/2 games of the Tigers.
"We wanted to come in here and make a statement against these guys," Yost said.
Shields (8-8) won his fourth game in his past five starts. He walked four and struck out one.
"Tonight I was pounding the strike zone but just missing with some of my pitches," Shields said. " ... I've been pitching well all season. I've got a lot of quality starts. That's what I care about, not wins and losses."
The Tigers threatened against Shields in the second and third innings.
In the second, a walk to Andy Dirks and Brayan Pena 's single gave Detroit runners on first and second with one out.
But Shields got both Ramon Santiago and Jose Iglesias to hit pop-ups to the shortstop to get out of the inning.
But the biggest potential rally came in the third when the right-hander walked Austin Jackson to lead off the third inning and Torii Hunter singled him to second.
But Shields retired the next three hitters, using mostly his change-up.
Miguel Cabrera was retired on weak roller to Shields between the mound and first base on which the runners moved up to second and third.
But Prince Fielder hit a short fly ball to left fielder Alex Gordon . Despite Jackson's speed, it wasn't nearly deep enough for him to score.
Shields then got Victor Martinez to line out to right to end the inning.
"It's huge, especially with their lineup and who was coming up," Shields said. "You've got Miggy, Fielder and Victor, whose one of the hottest hitters in the league ... and Miggy, the best hitter in the league."
Luke Hochevar pitched a perfect eighth and Greg Holland worked the ninth, allowing a hit, for his 34th save. He had saves in both games of the doubleheader.
Jose Alvarez (1-3), called up from Triple-A Toledo to make the start, took the loss. He gave up two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, walking three and striking out five.
Alvarez's only big mistakes came in the third with two outs. He walked Jamey Carroll and Hosmer followed with his second home run of the day, that gave the Royals a 2-0 lead. Hosmer blasted Alvarez's 1-1 change-up deep into the right-field stands for his 14th homer.
"I felt good, but I made one big mistake," Alvarez said. "I'm here to win games for this team, and I didn't do that, so I'm disappointed."
Alvarez was replaced by Jeremy Bonderman with two outs in the sixth. Bonderman got the final out of that inning and the first two outs of the seventh before being replaced by Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque .
Carroll's sacrifice fly in the seventh made it 3-0. It was an unearned run off Bonderman, whose throwing error on an attempted pickoff throw sent Chris Getz from first to third. He scored on the sac fly.
Duffy (1-0) beat Justin Verlander in the opener.
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 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."
Kelvin Herrera replaced Duffy in the seventh and retired the side in order. Aaron Crow worked the eighth and allowed Santiago's pinch-hit home run leading off the inning. Crow got the next three batters.
"Would have liked to have been able to accomplish two things, win and keep the bullpen fresh," Verlander said. "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."
Verlander (12-9) allowed two runs and seven hits in eight innings. He struck out five and didn't walk a batter.
"Our pitching was terrific tonight, both of them," Leyland said. "I'm certainly not going to nitpick what they did."
Kansas City made it 2-0 on consecutive doubles leading off the seventh by Justin Maxwell and Emilio Bonifacio .
NOTE: With two outs in the second inning of the first game, Bonafacio hit a soft liner that Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias reached to his right to catch on the backhand. The ball popped out of his glove back over Iglesias head, but he twisted his body to catch it for the inning's final out. ... In the eighth, Bonifacio, playing center field, and right fielder David Lough collided after Bonifacio made a running catch of Cabrera's long drive on the warning track in deep right-center. ... It was the Royals' first doubleheader sweep in Detroit since Aug. 5, 1984. ... 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. ... The Royals' Billy Butler continued his mastery of Verlander in the first game. Butler was 2 for 3 to run his career mark against the Tigers' star to 27-for-62 (. 435). ... Saturday's scheduled starters are Wade Davis (6-9, 5.29 ERA) for Kansas City against Doug Fister (10-6. 3.60) for Detroit.