The defending World Series Champion Kansas City Royals arrive in Detroit with their season reduced to playing the familiar role of spoiler for the remainder of the 2016 season. With just 45 games remaining, Kansas City finds itself 11 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, 7-1⁄2 games out of a wild card playoff spot, and six games behind the second place Tigers.
The Tigers continue to battle for a post season berth, standing five games behind Cleveland and 1-1⁄2 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the final playoff spot in the American League. The Royals have won six of the ten games played between the two teams this season.
Kansas City Royals (57- 60) at Detroit Tigers (63-54)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m. ET, Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Royals Review
Pitching Matchup: RHP Ian Kennedy, (6-9, 3.91 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (1-0, 4.00 ERA)
The Royals are already questioning their decision to sign Kennedy to a five-year, $70 million contract last winter. The veteran right hander has been very average in his 23 starts this season, with a Fielding Independent Pitching stat that suggests there has been some good fortune in his ERA. He is striking out a batter per inning, but continues to hand out free passes and serve up home run balls all too often.
Daniel Norris will make just his second start since coming off the disabled list and his fifth start of the season. He threw five innings of one-run ball last Tuesday at Seattle, but gave up three consecutive hits before being removed in the sixth inning. In just 18 innings, the left hander has been fairly effective, but has yet to go more than five innings in any start.
Kennedy went 6-1⁄3 innings against Detroit back on April 20, allowing two runs on six hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts in a 3- 2 Tigers victory. Norris has yet to face the Royals this season.
Kansas City’s offense ranks dead last in the American league in runs scored this season, while being particularly deficient in their power numbers. The Tigers rank among the top third in the league in most offensive categories, including run production.
Hitter to Fear: Lorenzo Cain is 2 for 3 with a double in three plate appearances
Hitter to Fail: Kendrys Morales is hitless with just one walk in five plate appearances
The Royals’ three speedy outfielders, Cain, Jarrod Dyson, and Paulo Orlando, each have a weighted on base average of .380 or better against left handed pitchers this season, but Norris should be fine as long as he keeps the ball in the park.
The Tigers are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Royals are struggling to get back to .500 for the season. Despite losing three straight in Seattle, Detroit has been very good since the All Star break. The Tigers are 33- 21 at home this season, while Kansas City is just 21- 39 on the road.
Norris holds the Royals in check while Detroit's offense produces enough to give the Tigers their third straight win.