The schedule-makers certainly didn't do the Kansas City Royals any favors.
The Royals' 15-game swing against opponents with winning records continues Saturday when they seek to snap a three-game losing streak against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Kansas City had won four of its previous six over Detroit and Cleveland, but an off day coupled with a 6-3 loss to the Tigers on Friday has dropped the Royals (77-70) 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the American League's final wild-card spot.
Worse yet for the Royals, Miguel Cabrera may finally be coming out of a month-long slump with a fourth-inning double. He was 3 for 22 while struggling with hip, back and abdominal injuries.
"I think those four or five days off, his timing was off just a hair, but I saw signs in Chicago (Sept. 9-11) that it's close to right there," manager Jim Leyland told the team's official website.
Since Cabrera first exited a game due to his ailments on Aug. 29, Prince Fielder has more than shouldered the load - batting .423 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 14 games - and hit a go-ahead two-run home run Friday. With his three RBIs Friday, he surpassed 100 for the sixth time in seven seasons.
"If I'm healthy and can play every day, that's what I'm really focused on," Fielder said. "When you're out there every day, you've got a chance to do all those things."
Though Ervin Santana (8-9, 3.35 ERA) has struggled of late, he's fared well versus Detroit (85-62). His seven career wins against the Tigers are his most against any team outside of the AL West, where Santana spent his first eight years.
Since 2008, he is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA against the Tigers, whom he limited to two hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 1-0 win July 19. Santana, though, is 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA over his last seven starts after being reached for four runs - three earned - in seven innings of a 4-3 loss at Cleveland on Monday.
Though Santana allowed three home runs for the second time in four starts, the right-hander didn't seem too concerned.
"I only made one bad pitch to (Asdrubal) Cabrera," said Santana, who had given up only six homers his previous 15 starts. "The other two home runs were good pitches, but they got a hold of them."
Since allowing two runs or fewer in five straight starts from July 12-Aug. 7, Doug Fister (12-8, 3.77) has struggled with consistency and split his last four outings. After pitching seven scoreless innings to earn a win over Boston on Sept. 2, he was roughed up by Kansas City on Sunday, giving up five runs in 6 1-3 innings.
Fister recorded his first 14 outs easily enough - yielding a single run - but a pair of two-out hits in the fifth preceded Eric Hosmer 's go-ahead three-run homer in a 5-2 defeat.
Hosmer is batting .435 over a six-game hitting streak and has a .328 average against the Tigers this season.
Billy Butler has hit safely in eight straight games versus Detroit, batting .400 in that span. He is 11 for 33 against Fister, including 5 for 14 this season.
The Royals have 18 hits off Fister in his last 12 2-3 innings against them.
|Kansas City Royals|
|September 05, 2013||Salvador Perez||Day-to-Day||Concussion|
|September 03, 2013||Noel Arguelles||60-Day DL||Left shoulder|
|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 09, 2013||Lorenzo Cain||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|September 04, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Bilateral shin splints|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 31, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained lower abdomen|
DETROIT (AP) -- Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez kept his eye on the ball. He tried, too, anyway, and wound up making a game-saving play.
Perez tagged out Prince Fielder at the plate, preserving the Royals' 1-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
"We had to win this ballgame and the manner in which we did it was just exciting," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Ervin Santana (9-9) and the Royals moved up on the two teams ahead them in the race for the second AL wild-card spot, with the Yankees and Orioles both losing. Tampa Bay currently holds that final playoff position.
Greg Holland closed for his 43rd save, helped by an outstanding defensive play that shut down the AL Central leaders.
Fielder walked to open the ninth, and the Tigers' burly first baseman tried to score from first on Omar Infante 's two-out double.
Gold Glover Alex Gordon made a strong throw from the left-field corner to Alcides Escobar , and the shortstop then made the relay throw to Perez.
Escobar's throw came in to Perez behind Fielder and the ball was shielded from the catcher's sight for about two seconds.
"I didn't see the ball," Perez said. "I just put my glove down and got the short hop and tagged him."
Escobar couldn't believe Perez's play.
"Unbelievable!" Escobar said. "That game was one of the best games I've ever played in in my career."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland agreed with third base coach Tom Brookens ' decision to send Fielder.
"Really, they executed that play to perfection," Leyland said. "The only thing was, when I saw the throw coming in, I thought he might get a bad hop, but he made a terrific
pick of that ball, and tag."
Eric Hosmer had an RBI triple in the first for the Royals. He was thrown out at the plate on a grounder.
Santana (9-9) won for the first time since Aug. 4, outpitching Doug Fister (12-9). He allowed five hits in 6 2-3 innings, walking one and striking out five.
"Everything was working pretty good," Santana said. "I threw a lot of strikes and most of the time ahead in the count. That was the key."
Miguel Cabrera made a bid to put Detroit ahead with two outs and a runner on in the sixth, but Gordon caught his long drive to left-center at the fence.
Gordon lined a single on Fister's first pitch of the game, and he scored on Hosmer's one-out triple.
Royals second baseman Emilio Bonifacio was ejected by first base umpire James Hoye after being picked off first base by Fister for the final out of the third.
Chris Getz , who is from the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, took over at second base for Kansas City.
NOTES: Kansas City trainer Nick Kenney came out to check on Santana after he was hit by Andy Dirks ' liner in the second. Santana recovered to throw Dirks out at first. Santana ultimately threw a couple of warmup pitches and continued. ... The Royals are 10-8 against the Tigers this season, clinching the season series with one game left. ... In Sunday's series finale, Detroit's Max Scherzer (19-3, 3.01) will go for his 20th win against Kansas City RHP Jeremy Guthrie (14-10, 4.11).