Rookie Drew Smyly will try to win consecutive starts for the first time in his career this evening when the Detroit Tigers open up a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
Smyly won for the first time in five starts on Sunday at Tampa Bay, hurling five innings and giving up three runs on three hits and a walk in a 5-3 victory. The left-hander also struck out four, improving to 3-3 with a 4.54 earned run average in 14 starts this season.
The 23-year-old would love to duplicate his previous start against the Royals, an April 17 outing in Kansas City. Smyly was only charged with one unearned run over six innings but did not factor into a 3-1 win.
Detroit welcomes Kansas City to town after splitting a four-game series with Minnesota, drawing even in the set with yesterday's 7-3 win. The Tigers rallied with a five-run eighth inning, getting a three-run homer from Prince Fielder and a solo shot by Delmon Young.
"I was trying to get a ball I could drive," said Fielder. "Man on first, you don't want to hit into a double play there. I was able to get one up and it went out."
Tigers starter Rick Porcello yielded 12 hits and three runs in just 3 2/3 innings. Struggling anyway, he came out after being hit by a line drive.
Detroit, which is a game under .500 at 41-42, is 4 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central.
Kansas City is further back at 7 1/2 games off the pace and is also coming off a split of a four-game set. The Royals won for just the second time in seven games when they knocked off the Blue Jays 9-6 on Thursday.
Eric Hosmer had two hits and drove in three runs, while Yuniesky Betancourt hit a solo homer.
Kansas City starter Luke Hochevar gave up two runs on four hits over five innings before leaving for precautionary reasons with a right medial ankle sprain suffered while covering first base in the fifth.
"When I caught it, I just lunged for the bag and tried to go as quick as I could to the bag. I just hit the bag on the inside and just rolled it in. It wouldn't have been bad if it wasn't on the inside [of the ankle]," said Hochevar, who didn't think the injury is serious.
The Royals' Jonathan Sanchez will try to win tonight for the first time since his season debut on April 8. He is 1-4 with a 6.80 ERA in 10 starts this season, including an 0-2 mark and 6.86 ERA in four outings since returning from a biceps injury.
The 29-year-old lefty allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits over just 4 1/3 frames of a loss to Minnesota on Saturday. He also walked six batters for a second straight outing and his 7.77 walks per nine innings is the highest among any major league pitcher with at least 10 starts.
Sanchez has faced the Tigers twice this season and has not gotten a decision despite giving up two runs over 10 total innings.
The Tigers had won five in a row over the Royals until Kansas City picked up a 3-2 victory in the previous meeting at Detroit on May 2.