A pair of strong-armed pitchers clash Thursday afternoon when the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals wrap up their abbreviated series from Comerica Park.
Tuesday's opener of what was supposed to be a three-game set was postponed due to inclement weather, so the two AL Central rivals opened the series on Wednesday. The Tigers prevailed, 7-5, as Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez each notched two hits and two RBI.
Omar Infante went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored for Detroit, which snapped a four-game losing streak and erased a 4-1 deficit. Miguel Cabrera recorded two hits, an RBI and a run scored, and is two hits shy of becoming the 30th player in franchise history to record 1,000 hits in a Tigers uniform.
Max Scherzer was able to stay unbeaten (2-0) on the season despite giving up five runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three.
Tigers relievers Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde kept the Royals off the board the rest of the way with Valverde nailing down his first save of the season in the ninth. Valverde was making his 2013 debut for the Tigers and was welcomed with a mix of boos and cheers.
"I don't pay attention too much to the reaction," Valverde said. "I think they were excited. But what I have in my mind all the time, when I'm running for the mound, is make good pitches, throw strikes, get a fly ball or strike them out, and that's it."
Tigers veteran outfielder Torii Hunter was 0-for-5 on Wednesday and is still two home runs shy of 300 for his career.
Detroit, which will also entertain Atlanta and Minnesota on its homestand, will send ace Justin Verlander to the mound Thursday. Verlander is 2-2 in four starts to go along with 2.13 earned run average and suffered a tough luck loss last Thursday in a 2-0 setback at Seattle. He gave up both runs and nine hits in seven innings with a season high 12 strikeouts.
Verlander has dominated Kansas City in his career as evidenced by the right- hander's 15-2 mark and 2.73 ERA in 23 starts.
Kansas City had won two straight and three of four games until suffering the recent loss in Motown.
Eric Hosmer drove in a pair of runs, while Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler had an RBI apiece for the Royals. Wade Davis was 2-0 entering the contest, but lasted only 3 2/3 innings on the mound and gave up seven runs -- three earned -- to absorb the loss.
Davis wasn't able to hold on to Kansas City's lead as the Tigers scored six runs between the third and fourth inning.
"I don't think the weather was any factor," Davis said. "I just fell behind everybody and didn't make pitches. And even when I did make pitches, they hit 'em. When you get a team like that, that can swing the bats well and you give 'em any opportunity to score runs like I did, they're going to do it."
The Royals, who will return to Kauffman Stadium after this series for a 10- game homestand versus Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Chicago (White Sox), hope James Shields can pitch them to a series split with Detroit.
Shields is just 1-2 in four starts with a 3.00 earned run average and did not figure into the decision of Saturday's 4-3 loss at Boston. He struck out eight batters, walked three and scattered four hits through six innings of one-run ball. The right-hander has fanned at least six batters in every start.
Known as "Big Game James," Shields, who has won at least 13 games in each of the past three years, has pitched big against the division-rival Tigers. In nine career starts in this series, he is 5-1 with a 3.66 ERA.
Detroit won 13 of 18 meetings with the Royals last season.