Kansas City Royals (77-69) at Detroit Tigers (84-62)
Time/Place: 7:08 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Royals Review
Pitching Matchup: LHP Bruce Chen (7-2, 2.79 ERA) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (12-11, 3.64 ERA)
As expected, Chen turned in his annual dominant performance against the Tigers in his last start, holding them to two runs on just five hits in seven innings of work. Both of the runs came on one swing of the bat from Jose Iglesias, and the Tigers were lifeless for the rest of the afternoon. He didn't walk anyone either, continuing his second consecutive season of dazzling command out of the blue.
Unfortunately for Chen, he hasn't pitched well at all in Comerica Park. For his career, Chen is 2-6 with a 6.60 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and 1.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Detroit. On the other hand, Chen has been excellent on the road this season, allowing just 10 runs in 37 1/3 innings. But, here's the kicker: six of those ten runs came in a start at Comerica Park on August 18th in 5 1/3 innings.
Six days ago, Verlander was one pitch away from having a pretty solid outing. That pitch wasn't a should-have-been strikeout like we've seen on other occasions, but rather an inside fastball that didn't get far enough inside to Salvador Perez and the Royals took a 4-2 lead. The Tigers offense went scoreless after that against the stout Royals' bullpen -- including former rotation punching bag Luke Hochevar -- and Verlander picked up his 11th loss of the year. Verlander allowed eight hits, but the seven strikeouts (to a lone walk) were encouraging.
Once again, expect Jim Leyland to stack the lineup with a couple more lefties than usual against Chen. His pronounced reverse splits this season have paid dividends in both of his starts against them, including the one five days ago: Prince Fielder and Alex Avila had two of the team's five hits. Meanwhile, Verlander has continued to pitch well against the Royals, holding them to a combined three earned runs in his two starts against them at Comerica Park this season.
The offense backs Verlander to his 13th win of the season.