Tigers Look to Even Series with Royals

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It took only a week of play for the Detroit Tigers to have “one of those” games. The Tigers lacked any kind of sense of urgency, any kind of fire when they took on the Royals yesterday afternoon in the opening game of a three game set.

Perhaps it’s understandable, given that the Tigers fought back from three different deficits of at least five runs in Sunday’s game with Cleveland. After a rousing comeback like that, players are bound to be a bit down the next day.

That doesn’t mean I condone their efforts, or lack thereof, versus Kansas City, but I understand them. It’s a long long season and these types of games are going to happen every once in a while.

The results of today’s game won’t matter as much to me as seeing how the Tigers play. If we see the same type of things we saw yesterday it would be a disturbing trend. This team has enough talent to compete all year in the Central, but they cannot do so without playing as hard as they can, as often as possible.

So the Tigers will take the field at Comerica today knowing that even the Royals cannot be taken lightly, a lesson I’m sure they learned well last September, but got a refresher course yesterday.

It will be up to Dontrelle Willis to halt the losing streak before it can begin. Willis pitched fairly well in his initial start of the year last Thursday in KC. After walking the first batter he faced on just four pitches, he issued only one other walk in his six strong innings. He didn’t factor in the decision, but Willis kept his club in the game until the Tigers could get into the Royals bullpen and secure a come from behind win.

He is opposed again today by Brian Bannister, who has been remarkably unremarkable throughout his career, yet feasts on Tiger hitters. Bannister is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.45 at Comerica Park.

The Tigers will also get back to emphasizing defense today as Adam Everett, Scott Sizemore, and Gerald Laird return to the lineup after getting yesterday off.

The key to the game for Willis, apart from throwing strikes of course, will be to keep the pesky hitters at the top of the Royals lineup off the bases. It’s hard enough to get Billy Butler and company out in the middle of the order, those guys don’t need RBI chances, too.

David DeJesus and Scott Podsednik were on base a combined seven times in yesterday’s Royals win. Podsednik is hitting .563 (9 for 16) against the Tigers this year with a ridiculous .632 OBP. I’m really starting to not like that guy very much.

Bannister’s history of success in Detroit means that Willis will have to be sharp to keep the Tigers in the game as his offense likely won’t help all that much. Then again, perhaps the Tigers are due to hang five or six on the board against the KC right hander. That would be nice, as they really haven’t gotten much against a starting pitcher yet this year.