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Tigers-Royals Preview

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Zack Greinke earned just one victory despite an outstanding four-start finish to August, but the Kansas City Royals ace might have an excellent opportunity to win his first outing in September.

Greinke boasts an ERA under 1.00 in his past seven starts against the Detroit Tigers, who may not have major league RBI leader Miguel Cabrera for the opener of this three-game series Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.

Greinke (8-11, 3.81 ERA) won't be winning a second straight AL Cy Young Award, but over his past four outings he's certainly pitched up to the standard he set in 2009.

He's 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA since Aug. 11 after holding Cleveland to three runs over eight innings Saturday in a 4-3, 10-inning loss.

"Greinke is so darned tough," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's not just his velocity. It's his off-speed stuff and how he locates it, too.''

Kansas City (56-77) gives the right-hander the majors' fifth-worst run-support average (3.26), but Greinke has received 5.51 runs per game in his last seven starts against the Tigers (66-68).

He's hardly needed that much assistance. Greinke is 4-1 with a 0.92 ERA in that stretch, and hasn't allowed a homer versus Detroit in 60.0 innings over nine starts dating to May 13, 2008.

Miguel Cabrera is 3 for 16 (.188) with five strikeouts against the Royals ace over the past two seasons, but Greinke might not have to worry about one of baseball's most feared hitters. Cabrera, who leads the majors with 107 RBIs, is day to day after leaving Thursday's game at Minnesota with left biceps tendinitis.

"I'm a little worried, but I think I'm going to be OK," he said. "They take care of me good. Hopefully (Friday) feel better."

The Tigers were trailing 6-3 in the sixth inning when Cabrera exited, but put together an impressive rally. Casper Wells, who replaced Cabrera, hit a tying homer in the ninth and Gerald Laird's solo shot in the 13th was the difference in Detroit's 10-9 victory.

"It was just a whole team effort tonight," Laird said. "It was an unbelievable win."

The Royals beat Texas 10-9 on Tuesday, but were on the other side of a one-run game in Wednesday's series finale. Wilson Betemit and Billy Butler hit deep drives in the ninth, but Nelson Cruz caught both near the wall to preserve the Rangers' 4-3 win.

"Almost every other park you can almost put it on the board, but not in this one," Butler said of the roomy Kauffman Stadium.

That's good news for Jeremy Bonderman (7-9, 5.27), who gives up 1.32 homers per nine innings - sixth-most in the AL.

The right-hander didn't have a problem keeping the ball in the park when he faced the Royals in Detroit on Aug. 23. Bonderman held Kansas City to two runs over six innings of a 12-3 win.

Bonderman, 1-4 with an 8.68 ERA in his last five road starts, missed his latest turn in the rotation due to inflammation around his right rib cage. While he expects to pitch Friday, Alfredo Figaro would get the call if he can't.

Royals shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, who has homered in back-to-back games, is 11 for 24 (.476) against Bonderman.

Tagged: Tigers, Royals, Jeremy Bonderman, Miguel Cabrera, Zack Greinke

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