American League Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, July 7th
(All times eastern)
Kansas City Royals (37-45) at Detroit Tigers (42-42), 4:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Kansas City - Bruce Chen (7-7, 4.83)
Detroit - Doug Fister (1-6, 4.61)
(Sports Network) - In less than a week the Kansas City Royals will have the
eyes of the baseball world watching the 83rd All-Star Game at Kauffman
Stadium, but for now the team has to be concerned with trying to finish the
first half of the 2012 campaign strong as they play the second of a three-game
set against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Sitting fourth in the American League Central, eight games below .500 and 8
1/2 games out of contention, the Royals have dropped three of their last four
outings and six of their last eight contests overall after bowing to Detroit
in the series opener on Friday, 4-2.
Starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez was responsible for all four runs scored by
Detroit, allowing six hits and three walks, while striking out two over 5 2/3
innings on the road.
"I was around the plate and did some good things," said Sanchez. "But the
results weren't good."
Mike Moustakas and Brayan Pena both hit doubles and scored for the visitors
who are still one game over .500 (23-22) away from home.
As for the Tigers, third in the division and 4 1/2 games off the pace, their
third straight win came courtesy of Quintin Berry and Delmon Young who both
plated a pair, the latter hitting his eighth home run of the season. Drew
Smyly was credited with his fourth win of the season as he permitted just two
runs on six hits and struck out a career-high 10 in six innings. Jose Valverde
was credited with his 16th save of the season as he pitched a perfect ninth
for the home team.
"Tonight, my curveball was better than it's been all year," Smyly said of his
control. "When you have your pitches going, it makes it easy."
Victorious in just one of his seven decisions to this point in the campaign,
Doug Fister tries to finish up the first half of the season on a high note as
he takes the mound for the Tigers this afternoon.
The right-hander has dropped three straight decisions and four of his last
five outings overall, with a 4-1 win over Colorado on June 16 as his only
saving grace. Fister was last in action earlier this week when he permitted
six runs on eight hits, while striking out four, in just four innings of work
versus the Minnesota Twins at home.
Originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2006, the California native has
a career mark of 1-2 with a 3.64 ERA versus KC in five appearances.
As for the Royals, their plan is to hand the ball to Bruce Chen in hopes that
he can capture his third win in four outings.
Like Fister, Chen's most recent performance took place against the Twins on
July 1, with the left-hander giving up six runs on six hits, three of those
being home runs, over the course of 5 2/3 innings of what became a 10-8 road
loss for Kansas City.
Chen has pitched against Detroit 14 times previously in his career, displaying
a 4-4 record with a 5.61 ERA.
The Tigers are currently fourth in the AL in hitting at .266, batting a
slightly better .274 over the last seven days thanks to the efforts of Miguel
Cabrera and Austin Jackson. The former has 14 hits in his last 25 at-bats,
adding five walks while knocking in eight runs and scoring six times.
Jackson has struck out 10 times in his last 30 at-bats, yet has somehow
matched Cabrera in total bases (22) during the stretch and has scored nine
Kansas City has been struggling with power numbers again this season, ranking
last in the American League in home runs with just 66, which is barely half
the number posted by the New York Yankees (126) in the same number of games.
Keeping the Royals from falling completely off the map, the pitching staff is
tied for the second-most shutouts in the AL at this stage with eight, although
the squad's overall ERA is close to the bottom at 4.29.
07/07 10:33:43 ET