Tigers-Royals Preview

The Kansas City Royals don’t need to be told how well Justin

Verlander has pitched this season – they have seen it

firsthand.

Verlander tries to win his fourth straight start both overall

and against the Royals when he takes the mound for the AL

Central-leading Detroit Tigers on Saturday night at Kauffman

Stadium.

Making a case to claim his first Cy Young Award, Verlander

(15-5, 2.24 ERA) could match CC Sabathia atop the majors with 16

wins if Sabathia doesn’t beat Boston earlier Saturday. Verlander

came within four outs of his second no-hitter this season Sunday,

outpitching fellow Cy Young candidate Jered Weaver while allowing

two unearned runs and striking out nine in eight innings of a 3-2

win over the Los Angeles Angels.

“That was a lot of fun,” Verlander said. “I’m just happy that I

am able to make my pitches.”

The right-hander has a 1.88 ERA while winning his last three

starts overall and a 1.19 ERA while winning three straight over

Kansas City.

He’s allowed one earned run and eight hits while striking out 16

in 15 2-3 innings in two 2011 outings against the Royals. Verlander

gave up an unearned run and fanned nine in 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1

win July 10 to improve to 7-2 with a 1.62 ERA in 11 career starts

at Kauffman Stadium.

“It’s the kind of game you expect him to throw,” said Kansas

City’s Jeff Francis, who took the loss in that contest. “He’s a

tough pitcher.”

Despite blowing a three-run lead, Detroit (60-52) won 4-3 in 10

innings Friday to begin a stretch of 38 games that includes 31

against AL Central opponents. The Tigers have a four-game lead over

Cleveland in the division.

“The team got the win and that’s the biggest thing,” said

starter Rick Porcello, who allowed all three runs in the seventh

inning. “We got the win and started the series off to a good start.

That’s the bottom line.”

Brennan Boesch, who hit a go-ahead RBI single in the 10th, had

two RBIs as the Tigers beat the Royals for the sixth time in the

last seven meetings. Boesch is 10 for 31 with six RBIs his last

eight games, and 6 for 14 with five RBIs in his last three at

Kansas City.

Billy Butler went 1 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 11

games as the Royals (48-64) lost for just the third time in eight

games.

“We’re (16) games under .500, we’re just trying to win

ballgames,” outfielder Alex Gordon told the Royals’ official

website. “Just playing every day, trying to win every day.”

Butler has batted .391 with 19 RBIs during his streak, and .389

(14 for 36) with four doubles and two home runs versus

Verlander.

Scheduled Kansas City starter Danny Duffy (3-4, 5.05) is 2-0 in

his last three starts but has a 5.74 ERA during that span. He

allowed two runs in five innings of a 5-3 win at Cleveland on

Sunday.

The rookie left-hander gave up two runs and struck out six in

six innings of a 3-1 loss to Detroit on July 7.