Suffering their seventh shutout loss of the season on Friday, the Detroit Tigers try to get their offense moving as they play the second of a three-game set versus the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Held scoreless a total of six times prior to the All-Star Game, the Tigers were knocked off by Kansas City in a 1-0 decision to kick off the second half, marking the first time in 2013 that Detroit has bowed by such a score in a regulation game. Back in late May the club did suffer a pair of 1-0 setbacks in 11 innings versus manager Jim Leyland's former club in Pittsburgh.
Alex Gordon scored on a single by Billy Butler in the bottom of the first inning for the Royals and from there both teams struggled to produce offense as they combined to register only seven hits. Now batting .274, Butler accounted for two of his club's five hits on the night.
Ervin Santana was masterful on the mound for the hosts, permitting just two hits and a walk, striking out six, in 7 1/3 innings of action. Kelvin Herrera finished up the eighth on the hill and Greg Holland closed out the meeting en route to his 23rd save.
"I watched the first three innings on TV and I really thought he had a shot at throwing a no-hitter the way he was throwing the ball," said Holland of Santana's effort. "I didn't want to mention it to anybody."
For the Royals, it was the 56th 1-0 victory in team history and their second this year. It was also the fourth one-run game they've played against the Tigers this season and they've won three of them. Unfortunately, KC is still five games under .500 on the season overall and seven games behind division- leading Detroit in the American League Central.
The Tigers finished up with a grand total of just two hits, one each by Andy Dirks and Torii Hunter. The league's top hitter, Miguel Cabrera, came up empty in three at-bats, dropping his average to .362 as a result.
"I thought we swung the bats better than the results showed, I will say that," said Leyland. "But Santana pitched really good, and the center fielder covered a lot of real estate."
Anibal Sanchez was charged with the loss, evening his season record at 7-7 in the process. Sanchez allowed the lone run on four hits, but he walked five against just three strikeouts over six innings of action.
Expecting to bounce back from a month of starts that resulted in a 2-2 record and three no-decisions leading into the All-Star Break, Justin Verlander settles in to kick off the second half of the season in strong fashion tonight in Kansas City.
Granted, Verlander still has 10 win already in 2013, but at the moment he is not even the best pitcher in the Detroit rotation. That honor instead goes to Max Scherzer. Nevertheless, the Old Dominion product is still one of the most feared pitchers in the game and he proved that once again in his most recent outing versus Texas at home last weekend.
Against the Rangers, the right-hander allowed just one hit and walked three, striking out three as well in seven innings. The Tigers eventually picked up the 5-0 win, the second such decision for Verlander in his last three outings.
For his career Verlander, who failed to earn a decision in his most recent appearance against Kansas City a little over a month ago when he permitted just three hits in seven shutout innings, is a staggering 15-2 with a 2.56 ERA in 25 all-time matchups versus the Royals.
Set to counter Verlander in the first weekend back from the ASG will be Jeremy Guthrie, a former first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians back in 2002. The right-hander, who is already just three wins shy of matching his single-season best of 11 victories back to 2010, has been a bit shaky over the last month through, with just one win in six attempts.
Last weekend Guthrie went up against the Indians on the road and was knocked around for five runs on eight hits and three walks in seven innings. The hurler allowed one home run and struck out just three for the third straight game, en route to the 5-3 setback.
A native of Oregon, Guthrie already has one win this season against Detroit and sports a 6-3 career mark overall in 15 appearances.
Detroit, which won the season series last year by a comfortable 13-5 margin, has now fallen to the Royals in four of their six meetings in 2013.