Sure it’s only April, but a sweep of a division rival in the season’s first series could go a long way to determining the American League Central champion come October. Or it could mean nothing–either way the Tigers would love to sweep the Royals out of town and conversely Kansas City will try all they can to salvage a win in the series.
After the game, the Tigers stay home and host the Baltimore Orioles for a weekend series while the Royals will get the home portion of their schedule underway with three games against the White Sox.
Detroit Tigers (2-0) vs Kansas City Royals (0-2) — 1:08 PM
Comerica Park — Detroit, MI
TV: FSD, MLB.com (For out-of-market fans, most cable and satellite providers have a free preview of MLB Extra Innings for the season’s first week)
Radio: 97.1 The Ticket
Weather: 43 degrees, 90 percent chance of wintery mix (yikes)
When We Last Met
A year ago, the Kansas City Royals tortured their opponents by winning a vast majority of one-run games (31-25). The Detroit Tigers usually clobbered other teams in 2013, but in one-run games they were just 20-26. In the season’s first two games, these statistics have been turned on their head and the usually potent Royals’ bullpen has been saddled with the loss in walk-off fashion in two consecutive games.
Kansas City blew a golden opportunity to jump on Max Scherzer when he struggled early on Wednesday afternoon, but a Billy Butler at-em ball on 3-0 with two on, one out in the first turned into an inning-ending double play and seemed to put a cap on KC’s offense for the day. But, in line with Detroit Tiger closer history, Joe Nathan faced his first save situation as a Tiger and promptly blew his first save ever in Comerica Park.
The hero of the day was Ian Kinsler, whose fourth inning homer and 10th inning gap shot accounted for the only two runs on the day for Detroit, the second of which sealed another walk-off victory.
When we last saw today’s starter, Anibal Sanchez, it was way back on March 12 in a Spring Training game against the New York Yankees. Because of shoulder stiffness, he would not start another game. He started a minor league game in the final week of Spring Training and pitched a simulated game at Comerica Park on Sunday after an exhibition game in Washington was rained out on Saturday.
Lost in Scherzer’s Cy Young season and Justin Verlander‘s lights-out postseason, Sanchez was the AL ERA leader a season ago. He was especially sharp against the Royals, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.33 ERA. Alex Gordon (.333) and Justin Maxwell (.429) have hit Anibal well while Eric Hosmer and former teammate Omar Infante have struggled against the right hander.
Prized rookie Yordano Ventura may keep Tigers’ batters off-balance in what figures to be a very cold day. Ventura, a right hander, can reportedly throw up to 102 MPH. He had a cup of coffee with the big league club last September and experienced so-so results, allowing six runs over 15 innings with 11 strikeouts.
- Ian Kinsler, 2B
- Torii Hunter, RF
- Miguel Cabrera, 1B
- Victor Martinez, DH
- Austin Jackson, CF
- Alex Avila, C
- Nick Castellanos, 3B
- Andrew Romine, SS
- Rajai Davis, LF