Tigers-Royals Preview

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

coach.

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

Central-leading Cleveland.

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

in 2011.

Kansas City’s Melky Cabrera is 15 for 31 with two homers and six

RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.