American League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, May 3rd (All times Eastern)
Detroit Tigers (15-9) at Kansas City Royals (14-14), 7:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Drew Smyly (1-1, 3.60) Kansas City - Danny Duffy (1-1, 2.16)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Danny Duffy will make his inaugural start of the 2014 campaign, as the Kansas City Royals attempt to slow down the surging Detroit Tigers in the second matchup of a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium.
Duffy battled for the fifth starting spot in the Royals' rotation to Yordano Ventura in spring training before being sent off to Triple-A Omaha to begin the season. Duffy was recalled to the majors to provide Kansas City's bullpen some depth and was granted an opportunity to start on Saturday after compiling a 2.16 ERA over 8 1/3 innings of relief work.
Duffy's inability to control his pitch location and emotions are the primary obstacles standing between him and a regular spot in the starting rotation.
"Those things are hard to change, that's who he is," manager Ned Yost said. "You can tell yourself to calm down and stay within yourself, but it's hard to do. But, he'll get better at it as time goes on. As he gets more confident in his abilities, he'll get better at it. I think he's going to give us a good five innings and we'll go from there."
Duffy will have his work cut out for him as he faces the red-hot Tigers, who accumulated 14 hits en route to an 8-2 win over Kansas City in the series opener on Friday. Every Detroit starter contributed at least one hit, with Victor Martinez finishing 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI and Alex Avila contributing a two-run homer. Miguel Cabrera notched his 16th RBI of the season and Torii Hunter also made his mark by going 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. Cabrera is hitting .389 during his current eight-game hitting streak.
Duffy is 1-3 with a 4.09 ERA in six starts against Detroit.
The Royals were limited to only four hits and failed to reach base on balls on Friday. Second baseman Omar Infante went 2-for-4 and Billy Butler hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. The homer was the first of the season for Butler, who is now tied with Steve Balboni for ninth on Kansas City's career home run list at 119.
Butler hit just .143 through the first 12 games of the season, but has improved his average to .236 over the past 16. He is batting .340 at Kauffman Stadium this season.
"I'm feeling good at the plate, just putting quality at-bats together," Butler said. "I'm seeing the ball good now. I knew it was going to come. I didn't know when, but I'm feeling good about my pitch selections and getting some good results, and obviously that's given me some confidence."
Although the Royals are ranked 10th among MLB clubs with a .255 batting average, they are just 21st in runs scored at 110. Infante is leading the way with 19 RBI, while Mike Moustakas is pacing the team with four home runs despite his .156 batting average.
Kansas City will look to build some momentum offensively against southpaw Drew Smyly, who was thrust into the starting lineup due to an injury to Anibal Sanchez. Smyly gave up a two-run homer in the first inning to White Sox slugger Jose Abreu in his most recent appearance on April 23, but held Chicago scoreless over the next five innings en route to a no-decision.
"It's tough when they get you in the first, especially after my last start," Smyly said. "I thought I did a pretty good job after giving up that home run of settling down and keeping it under control."
Detroit swept the Royals in a weather-abbreviated two-game series to start the season and has won four straight in the matchup. The Tigers did lose six of nine at Kauffman Stadium last season.
05/03 10:48:30 ET