April 20, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) reacts after crossing home plate during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Royals vs. Tigers


The Kansas City Royals will finish off an eight-game road trip by playing a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers. Here is what you need to know about the series.

March 18, 2013; Viera, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the spring training game at Space Coast Stadium. Detroit beat Washington 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

PITCHING PROBABLES

Tuesday: Wade Davis (2-0, 2.25) vs. Max Scherzer (1-0, 2.84)
Wednesday: Luis Mendoza (0-1, 6.17) vs. Justin Verlander (2-2, 2.13)
Thursday: James Shields (1-2, 3.00) vs. Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 1.75)

Oh boy.

The Royals fourth and fifth best starters will be facing potentially the game’s best pitcher and Justin Verlander. Kidding… sort of. Scherzer’s last two starts have been nothing short of dominant, going 14 innings and allowing just two runs on 11 hits, two walks, and 23 strikeouts. Yeah, 23 strikeouts. Opponents have just a .216 batting average and .539 OPS against him in those two starts.

Verlander is okay, too.

Mendoza got rocked in his last start against Toronto, allowing 8 runs (7 earned) in less than six innings of work. He’ll be facing a Tigers lineup that is poised to break out of a recent slump in which runs have come at a premium.

Davis is coming off of his best start of the year against Atlanta when he struck out seven in seven innings while allowing just five hits and zero walks. Either Wade or Mendoza are going to have to find a way to out-pitch two of the best in the game right now if Kansas City is going to pull out a series victory.

BATTING BITS

- Detroit scored 74 runs (5.7 per game) in the first 13 games of the season before falling off a cliff in the second half of their road trip, scoring just six runs in their last five games. Over those last five games the Tigers lineup has average 10 strikeouts per game, batted .186/.258/.237, and hit just one home run.

- Miguel Cabrera is at least doing his part to help the offense, batting .381/.458/.429 with a double in his last five game. Cabrera has just two home runs on the season so far which is probably means he is due for a power explosion soon. The Royals pitching staff has allowed 20 home runs in 17 games so far this season.

If the home runs are going to come, though, it is probably going to be Prince Fielder or Cabrera. The two have combined to hit seven of the team’s 12 home runs. Alex Avila is the only other Tiger to have hit multiple home runs.

- Speaking of home runs, the Royals finally hit double-digit homers for the season after hitting three bombs in the second game of the double-header on Sunday. Minnesota is now the only team in the American League to have not hit double-digit home runs. This leaves Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Salvador Perez as the only regulars to have not hit a home run.

- The Royals have four players with an on-base percentage under .290: Jeff Francoeur (.281), Perez (.269), Chris Getz (.240), Moustakas (.226). The foursome has combine for seven walks in 245 plate appearances. Five of the walks are owned by Moustakas (his .158 batting average is the killer here) while Getz has yet to draw a walk all season. Billy Butler has 12 of the team’s 38 walks.

- Lorenzo Cain is having one hell of a road trip, batting .556/.619/.889 with a home run, three doubles, four runs scored and three runs batted in. It may be a good idea to move him up to the cleanup spot while he is still one fire.

- Kansas City has scored just 68 runs this season (fourth in fewest in the AL) but that is still eight more runs than they scored in the first 17 games last season. The 2012 Royals had three more home runs, drawn more walks, and had just two fewer hits than the 2013 Royals. Pitching makes all the difference, does it not?

MOMENTUM

After an impressive sweep of the double-header against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, the Royals are in first place and three games over .500 – a position they are not very used to being in at this stage of the season, or in any stage of the season for that matter. The Royals are doing thins even though the offense has been about as dismal as an offense can be and still win. This has been in part because of KC’s starting pitching staff which has been excellent through the first few weeks of the season.

Meanwhile, Detroit has lost four in a row and was just swept by the Los Angeles Angels. The Tigers scored just four runs in those four games and were shutout twice. The will be looking towards Scherzer and Verlander to pull themselves out of this early season slump.

Apr 12, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) scores on a single by center fielder Lorenzo Cain (not shown) in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

PICK TO CLICK

Salvador Perez.

Perez has had early success against Verlander and Scherzer in his career; He’s 3-for-8 with two doubles against Verlander and an insane 5-for-7 with two home runs against Scherzer. While I don’t expect Perez to maintain his .714 batting average against Scherzer, it does appear that Perez sees the ball pretty well against the two pitchers. Hopefully he’ll be able to battle out of his 4-for-20 slump in this series. Taking a walk or two would be nice.

PREDICTION

I’d feel more comfortable if James Shields and Ervin Santana were going up against Verlander and Scherzer but, alas, it didn’t work out that way. If Kansas City can steal one game in this series and finish this brutal road trip with a 4-4 record I would be beyond satisfied. While a 3.5 road trip would be very good given the teams we’ve played, it would mean the Royals were swept in this series which is not a hole Kansas City wants to dig for themselves. One win, a 4-4 road trip, and coming back to Kansas City for a 10-game home stand with a half-game lead over the Tigers would be very nice.

Tigers take two of three to win the series.

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Tags: Detroit Tigers Justin Verlander Kansas City Royals Max Scherzer Miguel Cabrera Salvador Perez

1 Comments on Series Preview: Royals vs. Tigers

  1. jimfetterolf says:

    Agree on 1-2, but have a little optimism in the second game as Luis Mendoza has been known to ambush an ace and keep the Royals in a game. Should be an informative series.

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