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Game 119 preview: Royals at Tigers

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The Tigers send Justin Verlander to the mound against the Royals’ Danny Duffy

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Tigers missed an opportunity to gain ground in their quest for a playoff spot on Monday when the Royals took the series opener, 3- 1. Kansas City has won seven of the first 11 games in the season series.

The game Tuesday will feature the best pitching match up of the series, with the Tigers’ Justin Verlander going against the Royals’ Danny Duffy. The Kansas City left hander has easily been the best starter in the defending champions' rotation, as Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura have struggled to find their groove all season.

Kansas City Royals (58- 60) at Detroit Tigers (63-55)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m. ET, Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Royals Review
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Danny Duffy (9-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (12-6, 3.42 ERA)

Justin Verlander has regained his status as one of the top pitchers in the game, ranking among the league leaders in fWAR, ERA, and strikeouts. Since May 8, he has posted a 2.58 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .196 batting average. The Tigers’ ace is 2-0 against the Royals this season, working seven innings in each of hist two starts, allowing one run on July 15, and giving up four runs on eight hits on June 16.

Danny Duffy has had a breakout season after being given a regular spot in the Kansas City rotation. As a starter, he has worked 106 innings with a 2.79 ERA, while holding opponents to a .213 batting average. Only Michael Fulmer has a lower ERA among AL starting pitchers who have logged at least 100 innings. Duffy has not lost a start since June 6, and has allowed more than three runs just twice this season, the last time in a victory over the Tigers on July 16.

The Tigers could be without Miguel Cabrera, who left Monday’s game with a strained shoulder, and Detroit will be without Jose Iglesias, Cameron Maybin, and Nick Castellanos, three right-handed hitters who are on the disabled list. Kansas City’s offense ranks dead last in the American league in runs scored this season.

Hitter to Fear: Salvador Perez (.469/.462/.755 in 52 plate appearances)
Hitter to Fail: Alex Gordon has a career average of just .205 against Verlander in 97 plate appearances. Alcides Escobar has hit just .192 in 79 appearances.

Mike Aviles has done more damage to the Tigers this season than any Royals’ hitter. The greatest fear for the Tigers is that Brad Ausmus will let him bat.

Outlook

Detroit usually wins with Verlander pitching when they can muster any sort of offense, but Duffy will present them with a stiff challenge. The Royals have an even greater task against Verlander. They’ll probably need a home run or two, and they’ve got fewer of those than any other team in the American league.

Prediction

Verlander shuts down the Royals while the Tigers manage just enough to eke out a victory.