Tigers-Royals Preview

With Justin Verlander pitching Sunday, the NL won’t have to face

him Tuesday at the All-Star Game in Phoenix. The Kansas City Royals

aren’t as fortunate.

Trying to rebound from his first defeat since April, Verlander

looks to continue his mastery of the Royals in the series finale at

Kauffman Stadium.

Verlander (11-4, 2.26 ERA), named an All-Star for the fourth

time, won’t be allowed to compete Tuesday due to a MLB rule that

makes starters who pitch Sunday before the Midsummer Classic

ineligible.

The Tigers ace delivered another All-Star-caliber performance in

his last outing, striking out eight and throwing 7 2-3 innings of

one-run ball, but was handed his first loss since April 27.

“The good side is, you pitched pretty well,” Verlander said

following Tuesday’s 1-0 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels. “The

bad side is, you lost.”

The right-hander hasn’t done much of that against Kansas City,

going 11-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 17 starts. Verlander fanned seven and

yielded one run in eight innings of a 3-1 home win over the Royals

on May 13.

Scheduled to start the Tigers’ first game following the break on

Friday against the Chicago White Sox, Verlander will try to help

Detroit (48-43) end the first half strong after Saturday’s 13-6

loss prevented the club from overtaking Cleveland for the AL

Central lead.

The Tigers had won three in a row overall and four straight over

AL-worst Kansas City (37-53).

“It’s frustrating. But big picture, we’ve got a chance to win

the series tomorrow,” said Brennan Boesch, who finished with three

hits and two RBIs.

The Royals, meanwhile, will try to build off Saturday’s 12-hit

attack that gave them their most runs at home since a 15-7 win over

Houston on June 15, 2010.

“The top four guys in our lineup today produced a lot of

offense,” manager Ned Yost said. “We had eight or nine hits, a

bunch of RBIs – the majority of the RBIs. Billy (Butler) swung the

bat really, really well tonight, as did Melky (Cabrera), and (Alex

Gordon) Gordo with the big three-run homer was key.”

Cabrera is hitting .486 (17 for 35) during an eight-game hitting

streak, and Gordon is 12 for 33 while hitting safely in all eight

games against Detroit in 2011.

Jeff Francis (3-9, 4.69) would appreciate if those streaks

continued as he goes for his first win in five starts.

The veteran left-hander, who did not earn a decision in Monday’s

5-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox after giving up two runs in six

innings, gets his second look at the Tigers this season. He went

eight innings in a 3-0 loss at Detroit on May 14, yielding three

runs and seven hits.

Francis could see the Tigers’ regular lineup in the finale after

manager Jim Leyland sat All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Brandon

Inge and Magglio Ordonez on Saturday.

Yost is expected to get Mike Moustakas in the game after sitting

the slumping rookie third baseman Saturday. Moustakas will try to

snap his 0-for-21 skid in his first matchup against Verlander.

Butler’s .394 batting average (13 for 33) off the Tigers

right-hander is the highest among all players Verlander has faced

at least 33 times.

All-Star first baseman Miguel Cabrera, 2 for 11 in the series,

has two hits in 10 at-bats versus Francis.