Royals-Tigers Preview

An outstanding stretch by their rotation has the Detroit Tigers

on the verge of their longest home winning streak in 64 years.

Considering his history there against the Kansas City Royals,

Justin Verlander appears to have a decent chance to extend that run

to 11 in a row in the opening game of Friday’s doubleheader.

Following its 4-1 victory over in Thursday’s series opener,

Detroit starters have compiled a 1.02 ERA during the team’s run at

Comerica Park, yielding nine runs and 46 hits over 70 2-3 innings.

The AL Central-leading Tigers (71-49), who moved 6 1-2 games ahead

of idle Cleveland and 8 1-2 in front of Kansas City, haven’t won 11

straight at home since Aug. 12-29, 1949.

They’ll attempt to reach that mark behind Verlander (12-8, 3.57

ERA), who gave up four runs over seven innings before leaving

without a decision in a 5-4 loss at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.

“It was a little bit frustrating,” said Verlander, whose nine

strikeouts were his most since May 27. “A little bit

inconsistent.”

While the ace right-hander has battled through an

uncharacteristically up-and-down season, he’s been solid at home

against the Royals. Verlander has struck out 68 over 67 2-3 innings

while going 6-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 10 career home starts against

the Royals, who are batting .217 against him.

He’s also 15-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 26 starts overall versus the

Royals, though one of those defeats came in his last outing against

them. Verlander fanned only three while yielding six runs – five

earned – and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 loss at Kansas

City on July 20.

Billy Butler went 1 for 3 in that contest and should be happy

about seeing Verlander since he’s hitting .424 with two homers in

59 career at-bats against him – the highest average of anyone with

at least 22 at-bats against the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner.

Kansas City has gone 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position

during its three-game skid after getting 14 hits in 42 such

opportunities in the four games to close out a 17-3 surge.

”We had a good scouting report today,” Kansas City’s Alex

Gordon said. ”When you’re not hitting doubles and home runs,

you’ve got to make something happen.”

The Royals counter Verlander with Danny Duffy (0-0, 4.91), who

gave up two runs and six hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 5-2 win over

Minnesota in his season debut Aug. 7. The left-hander is 0-3 with a

5.16 ERA in four career starts against the Tigers.

Kansas City will give the ball to right-hander James Shields

(7-8, 3.33) in Game 2.

Shields, who held Boston to two earned runs over seven innings

in beating Boston 4-3 on Sunday for his third win in four starts,

is 4-0 with a 2.23 ERA in his last seven road outings since losing

at Houston on May 22. He’s also 3-0 with a 2.90 ERA in five career

starts in Detroit.

Miguel Cabrera has homered off Shields this season and is 15 for

35 (.429) with two homers lifetime.

Teammate Prince Fielder is 5 for 14 against Shields and homered

for the first time since July 24 on Thursday to extend his hitting

streak to nine games. Andy Dirks matched a career high with four

hits and is 9 for 17 in his last five against the Royals.

Jose Alvarez (1-2, 5.03) is scheduled to make his first start

since July 1 for the Tigers in Game 2. The rookie left-hander had

allowed nine runs over 8 2-3 innings in his last two starts before

getting sent down to Triple-A Toledo.