Pitching: Jonathan Sanchez (1-4 6.80) vs. Drew Smyly (3-3, 4.54)
When the Royals traded Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez last winter, this surely is not what they had in mind. In ten starts this season, Sanchez has pitched 46.1 innings, allowing 52 hits and 40 walks, while striking out 32 batters. The hard throwing lefty has a WHIP of 1.99 and right handed hitters, which will fill the Tiger lineup, have a stat line of .308/ .435/ .489/ .924 against him. However, in 10 innings against Detroit, he has an ERA of 1.80 and the Tigers have hit just .139 against him. Go figure!
Drew Smyly makes his second start since coming off the DL with a nasty blister on his pitching hand. Smyly faced the Royals once this season, allowing just one run while scattering 7 hits, one walk, and striking out four Royals. Naturally, he was rewarded with a no decision for his efforts. Smyly has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last eight starts after holding opponents to no more than two in his first six games.
If the Tigers can take this series at home against the Royals, they will go into the All Star break at .500. The Royals enter Friday's game just three games behind Detroit. The key for Drew Smyly is to avoid the mistake pitches that wind up in the seats. Those mistakes seem to happen too often when he has two strikes on a hitter.
The key for the Tiger lineup is to accept the free passes that Sanchez will try to give them, and wait on mistake pitches out over the plate. Jim Leyland called out three of his right handed hitters in the media after Thursday's game, mentioning Ryan Raburn, Delmon Young, and Jhonny Peralta by name and challenging them to hit left handed pitchers better. Now is their opportunity.
Finally- .500 never looked so good!