KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals will close out their four-game series Thursday with a premier pitching matchup.
Right-hander Michael Fulmer, the 2016 American League Rookie of the Year and a plumber in Oklahoma during the offseason, will start for the Tigers.
The Royals will counter with left-hander Danny Duffy, who missed five weeks with an oblique strain before returning just prior to the All-Star break. Duffy has held left-handed hitters to a .188 batting average this season.
Duffy (5-6, 3.51 ERA) is very familiar with the Tigers. He is 5-7 with a 3.84 ERA against Detroit in 18 outings, including 16 starts. He is 4-1 with a 4.28 ERA vs. the Tigers since the start of the 2015 season.
"I've played against this division so much that you really can't bank on a certain team and how you do well against them," Duffy said. "Obviously, I've fared well against them at times and I've had a couple of rough starts, but that goes for every team.
"(I will) go in and do my homework, like I always do, and keep it simple."
He said he does not feel the need to alter anything against the Tigers.
"I'm just going to keep doing what I do and pitch to my strengths," Duffy said. "If I've got to change anything up, I'll adjust during the game."
The Royals rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth for a walk-off, 4-3 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday, snapping Detroit's four-game winning streak. Alex Gordon's sacrifice fly scored Brandon Moss with the winning run.
"Tomorrow we'll come back and we'll try to win the series," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We've got Michael Fulmer going and they've got Danny Duffy going, who is also very good.
"We didn't win tonight, but it was a good baseball game. Overall, there were a lot of good things that happened for us despite the fact we lost the game."
The Tigers have won five of their past seven against the Royals. If they win Thursday, it would be their third consecutive series victory over the Royals. Kansas City has had problems winning within the American League Central, losing 23 of 37 games.
The Royals picked up a game on division leader Cleveland, which lost at San Francisco. Kansas City trails the Indians by two games in the Central, and the Tigers are five games out, so the series finale will be an important game.
"All of them are," Duffy said. "It's obviously a pivotal time in the season, but I take all the games extremely seriously. I'm not going to put any extra emphasis on this one, but I do know what's at stake."
Fulmer, who has won his past four starts, is 2-2 with a 2.29 ERA in five career starts against the Royals. Fulmer (10-6, 3.06 ERA) beat the Royals on June 29 at Comerica Park, yielding three runs (two earned) on seven hits with seven strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. He is 0-2 in two career starts at Kansas City.
Eric Hosmer is 4-for-16 with a home run off Fulmer, while Alcides Escobar is 1-for-14 (.071) and Salvador Perez is 1-for-12 (.083).
Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez is 12-for-35 (.343) with three home runs and six RBIs against Duffy, while Justin Upton is 4-for-11 with two home runs. Miguel Cabrera is hitting only .219 (7-for-32) with three doubles vs. Duffy, but he also has drawn nine walks.