Game 23 Preview, Take 2: Royals at Tigers

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 26: Rick Porcello #48 of the Detroit Tigers throws a fthir dinning pitch while playing the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on April 26, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Kansas City Royals (6-15) at Detroit Tigers (11-11)

Time/Place: 7:00 p.m., Comerica Park

SB Nation Blog: Royals Review

Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: Luke Hochevar (2-1, 4.98 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (1-2, 6.45 ERA)

I'm convinced that the Royals exist simply to make this difficult. Copied and pasted from yesterday's preview:

Despite the elevated ERA, Hochevar has been pretty good this season. He had one bad inning against the Cleveland Indians, giving up 7 earned runs in the Royals' home opener. Remove that inning, and he has allowed just 5 runs in 20 2/3 innings this season. He was a ground-ball-inducing machine in his last start against those same Indians, snapping the Royals' 12-game losing streak with a 6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER effort.

In that last start, Hochevar was still showing some of the after-effects of a line drive that hit his left ankle during his first start against the Indians on April 13. He was originally scheduled to pitch against the Tigers in their last series, but his ankle forced him to be pushed back to the next day's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He hasn't thrown 100 pitches in a start yet this season.

Despite the 5 runs allowed in his last start against the Seattle Mariners, I'm still maintaining that Porcello has turned a corner this season (his start against the Texas Rangers nonwithstanding). There were glaring mistakes -- home runs by Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo, notably -- but Porcello also didn't get much help from his defense. In particular, Brennan Boesch seemed to drift to the Chone Figgins fly ball that ultimately sailed over his head for Seattle's 5th run. Porcello hit 94 mph on the gun numerous times and, other than the Smoak home run, was keeping the ball down in the strike zone to great effect.

The other end of the spectrum

As hot as Billy Butler has been lately, the two guys hitting behind him have been ice cold. Over the past week, Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur are hitting a combined .196 with two home runs (both Hosmer's) and 5 RBI. The Royals offense scored 27 runs in the same time perio, but that kind of production won't continue if their 4th and 5th hitters continue to struggle as much as these two have been.

Outlook

If nothing else, yesterday's rainout gave both bullpens a much needed day off. The Royals relied on long relief man Nate Adcock for 5 1/3 innings on Sunday after Bruce Chen was shelled by the Minnesota Twins, while the Tigers' relievers are simply throwing a lot of pitches. Expect the Tigers' bullpen to get a little more rest over the next couple days with Porcello and Justin Verlander on the mound. The Royals might not need Luis Mendoza in long relief tonight, but he may see some action tomorrow with Jonathan Sanchez scheduled to start.

Prediction

It might take a few innings, but the Tigers' bats come alive tonight.

Gameday Reading:

Royals notes: Mendoza on alert for duty as long reliever shuffle continues - Kansas City Star, Bob Dutton
Mendoza was originally scheduled to start tomorrow's game, but will probably be skipped this time through the rotation in order to give the Royals bullpen some rest.

Official Game Thread: Royals of Kansas City Versus Tigers of Detroit - Royals Review
I really hope that this doesn't get deleted, because it's probably the best and funniest game thread post that I've ever read.

Rex Hudler quotes, courtesy of Wikipedia - Royals Review
Having watched several Royals broadcasts this year, I can personally tell you that he is this bad.

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