Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland knew there needed to be a
shakeup to help his struggling pitching staff. So far, the results
have been positive since Jeff Jones was promoted to pitching
Making his second career start, rookie Charlie Furbush will try
to pitch the Detroit Tigers to a fourth straight win overall and
fifth in a row over the reeling Kansas City Royals on Saturday
night at Kauffman Stadium.
With his club’s ERA at 4.39, Leyland, along with team president
Dave Dombrowski, decided that something needed to be done and the
team fired pitching coach Rick Knapp following Sunday’s 6-3 win
over San Francisco.
In the five games since Jones has moved from bullpen coach into
his new role, Detroit’s ERA is 2.72 with the team allowing three
earned runs in the first two games of this series.
Rick Porcello gave up three runs – one earned – in Friday’s 6-4
victory that pulled the Tigers (48-42) within one-half game of AL
Furbush (1-2, 3.08 ERA), who replaced left-hander Phil Coke in
the rotation, will try to help Detroit win four in a row for the
first time since June 4-7.
Making his first career start the day after Jones started his
new job, Furbush lasted 4 2-3 innings in Monday’s 5-1 road loss to
the Los Angeles Angels. The left-hander yielded five hits and three
runs after making his first 12 appearances out of the bullpen.
“He’s got a lot of stuff moving,” Jones said after Furbush
struck out five and threw 45 of his 65 pitches for strikes. “He
creates a lot of deception with what he has going.”
Furbush gets his first look at the AL-worst Royals (36-53), who
are batting .194 with six total runs during their four-game losing
streak to Detroit.
Kansas City, loser of 12 of 16 at home, is expected to give the
ball to Luke Hochevar (5-8, 5.17), who went 4 1-3 innings in
Sunday’s 16-8 win at Colorado. The right-hander left early with
lower back pain in his right side after sliding into second base in
the fourth inning.
“It was just a little tougher to get down through my pitches,”
Hochevar told the Royals’ official website following his shortest
outing of 2011. “But still, that’s not an excuse. I can still get
through a situation like that.”
Hochevar is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in two starts against Detroit
this season, with both coming on the road.
Miguel Cabrera is 4 for 30 over the last nine games, but the
Tigers All-Star first baseman is batting .478 (11 for 23) with two
homers off Hochevar. It is Cabrera’s highest batting average
against any pitcher he’s faced at least 23 times.
Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, named as an All-Star
replacement Friday, has just five hits in 20 at-bats off Hochevar,
yet two of those were doubles and three left the park.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon is batting .345 (10 for 29)
while hitting safely in all seven games in this divisional matchup
Kansas City’s Melky Cabrera is 15 for 31 with two homers and six
RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.