Royals hope to gain more ground on Tigers
(Sports Network) - The Kansas City Royals aspire to gain more ground in the American League Central race as they battle the division-leading Detroit Tigers Saturday in the fourth matchup of a five-game set at Comerica Park.
Kansas City was unsuccessful in the series opener on Thursday, falling 4-1, before it took both games of Friday's double-header. The Royals won the day game, 2-1, beating Detroit's All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander. James Shields pitched a gem in the evening to help Kansas City coast to a 3-0 win.
Detroit had not lost at home since the All-Star break coming into this series. Prior to this set, the Tigers lost back-to-back series to the Yankees and White Sox on the road.
"This is simple: We just didn't muster up enough offensively in either game," manager Jim Leyland said after the shutout loss. "Both teams got great pitching."
The Tigers are not an easy team to shut out. They are second in the majors in runs scored with 614, lead all teams in batting average at .279 and their 145 home runs rank fifth. Detroit went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base in Friday night's loss.
Although his team came up short, Miguel Cabrera hit safely for the 13th time in 14 games this month. The defending Triple Crown winner is leading all players in batting average (.358) and RBI (115), but trails Baltimore's Chris Davis by six with his 38 home runs.
After hitting a two-run homer in the series opener, first baseman Prince Fielder went 0-for-7 with a strikeout and walk in Friday's games. The poor showing ending his nine-game hit streak. Despite tallying 13 hits over a nine- game span before the double-header, Fielder is batting just .235 this month.
Rookie third baseman Jose Iglesias failed to break out his slump Friday. He has gone 0-for-12 at the plate with four strikeouts over his past five games as his average has dipped to a season-low .308.
The Tigers hope Doug Fister can bounce back from a wild outing to avoid them from dropping a third straight game. The 29-year old righty suffered his first loss since June 21 on Monday after he gave up four runs on eight hits over six innings against the White Sox. Fister had not given up more than two earned runs in a game since early July.
Fister will be tested by the red hot Eric Hosmer, who homered in both games of the double-header on Friday.
"I think this kid has got a chance to be a great player," Leyland said. "And it looks to me right now that he's swinging the bat as good as anybody they've got. I don't really feel comfortable walking him to get to Billy Butler, but if you watched him swinging these two games, I thought he was probably swinging the best on the club -- not only a threat to get a base hit, but to hit a home run. And he got two today."
Kansas City still has some cold spots in its lineup. Third baseman Jamey Carroll has gone 0-for-9 since being acquired from Minnesota last week. Shortstop Alcides Escobar is 0-for-16 with three strikeouts over the past four games.
The Royals' pitching staff has been sensational recently. They have a combined ERA of 1.98 over the past nine games, but the club is just 5-4 over that span.
Wade Davis takes the hill for Kansas City on Saturday. The 27-year-old righty is just 6-9 on the season, but he has won two of his last three starts and has not allowed more than two earned runs in a game since July 10. Davis held Miami to two runs on six hits over six innings on Monday.
The Royals enter Saturday trailing the Tigers by 6 1/2 games for first place in the division and are a half-game behind the second place Indians.
08/17 10:47:27 ET