Rain washed out Tuesday's series opener between the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, so the teams will now play an abbreviated two-game set beginning Wednesday night.
Kansas City has not played since sweeping Sunday's twinbill with the Red Sox. In fact, the Royals have been idle five times since last Monday, thanks to two rainouts and three scheduled off days.
Right-hander Ervin Santana pitched his third straight quality start for Kansas City in Sunday afternoon's 4-2 win at Boston. In the nightcap, Lorenzo Cain drew a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning to cap a 5-4 victory.
Detroit has also been off for two days. However, the Tigers followed up a four-game win streak by losing each of their last four outings. In suffering a three-game sweep at Anaheim over the weekend, they were outscored by a 22-4 margin.
While it won't help the offense, the team signed former closer Jose Valverde to a one-year Major League contract on Tuesday. Papa Grande, as he is known, will be inserted right back into the closer's role after flashing dominant stuff at Class A Lakeland. The 35-year-old set a franchise record with 49 saves in 49 chances in 2011 but flamed out this past postseason with back-to- back blown saves, which ultimately cost him his job.
"His stuff has been very good," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday night. "We think he's ready to come in and close games for us."
Both managers simply pushed their starters back a day after Tuesday's rainout, meaning Wade Davis will take the hill for Kansas City and Max Scherzer gets the ball for Detroit. Both hurlers have been razor-sharp of late.
Scherzer has surrendered only two earned runs over his last 14 innings, fanning 23 batters in that span. Despite those numbers, Scherzer walked away with a no-decision in both outings. Last Wednesday, he held Seattle to one run over eight innings.
"I was able to start getting all three pitches to work," Scherzer said after his last outing. "Fastball, slider, changeup -- I was able to start throwing them for strikes and then start moving them out of the zone. That gave (catcher Brayan) Pena some flexibility to get creative in the pitch-calling. He did a great job back there, what pitch to throw in what situation. We got in a good rhythm, a good roll, and I was able to put together a good outing to keep us competitive in that game."
Davis has been equally impressive over his last two outings. The right-hander notched wins over Minnesota and Atlanta by tossing a combined 12 shutout innings with 13 strikeouts. The win over the hot-hitting Braves last week was particularly impressive, as it snapped Atlanta's 10-game winning streak.
"I came out with my big goal to get ahead," Davis said. "I know they have a pretty good offense, so I had to mix it up a lot and minimize my mistakes and keep them off the plate."
Detroit won 13 of 18 meetings with the Royals last season.