The Detroit Tigers find themselves one game behind the Baltimore Orioles for the final wild card playoff spot, and 5 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians in their division, following a 5-2 defeat in Kansas City on Saturday. The two teams have split the first two games of the series, with the Royals winning 10 of the 15 games between the two clubs so far this season.
Today’s game will be the final contest between the teams in Kansas City this season. The Royals visit Comerica Park for one more series later this month. Detroit will send rookie lefthander Daniel Norris to the mound against the Royals’ Edinson Volquez.
Detroit Tigers (73-62) at Kansas City Royals (70-65)
Time/Place: 2:15 p.m., Kauffman Stadium
SB Nation blog: Royals Review
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.86 ERA) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (10-10, 5.01 ERA)
Daniel Norris is starting on normal rest, coming off a start against Chicago where he gave up three runs in five innings, throwing 105 pitches. He is looking to solidify his spot in the rotation with Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey due to come off the disabled list before too long.
Edinson Volquez lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his last start against the New York Yankees, giving up four runs on nine hits. He has a 6.56 ERA with a 1.79 WHIP over his last seven starts. The Royals are looking to give him a day off, but couldn’t afford to skip him in this series.
Hitter to fear: Alcides Escobar (.326/.354/.565 in the last 2 weeks)
Hitter to fail: Kendrys Morales (.000/.125/.000 vs. Norris)
The Tigers will face another struggling pitcher in Volquez on Sunday, as well as a Kansas City offense that is last in the league in home runs and second-to-last in runs scored for the season. They have managed to manufacture enough runs since the All-Star break to put them back in the playoff hunt, but Detroit can deal them a mortal blow with a series win at Kansas City.
The Royals managed to claim a victory on Saturday with a two-run homer and a couple of runs produced by a pair of two-out bunts and a grounder through the middle, while the Tigers managed just two runs despite putting 10 runners in scoring position. Detroit needs to get timely hits to offset the Royals’ speed and aggressiveness on the bases. Sunday’s game is even bigger for the Royals than it is for Detroit, as a loss at home would put them four games behind Detroit and virtually out of the race for the Central division.
The Tigers light up the scoreboard against Volquez, while Norris is just good enough. The Tigers' bullpen narrowly avoids another disaster. Tigers 7, Royals 6.