Carrying a four-game win streak into the final game before the All-Star break, the Detroit Tigers battle the Kansas City Royals to close out a three-game set at Comerica Park this afternoon.
Even though the Tigers have hit a small hot streak in recent days, winning seven of their last 10 overall, the team is still third in the American League Central behind both Chicago and Cleveland, a total of 4 1/2 games out of first.
Detroit scored a total of five runs in the first two innings on Saturday but had to hold on for the 8-7 victory after the squad surrendered three runs in the top of the ninth to close the gap. Prince Fielder and Delmon Young both hit home runs for the hosts, knocking in a pair each, while Austin Jackson and Gerald Laird both tallied three hits.
Starting pitcher Doug Fister captured just his second win in eight decisions on the season as he worked his way through six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and three walks.
"He left a couple pitches up and struggled with his command, but he settled down and made pitches and kept us in the lead," Laird said of Fister's efforts. "It obviously, wasn't his best outing, but it's one that he can build off of."
Bruce Chen was saddled with the loss for the Royals while being touched for six runs on nine hits in just 3 1/3 innings of action. Now showing a 5.22 ERA on the campaign, Chen walked two and struck out three in the decision as well.
"I feel very bad, because I didn't give me team a chance," Chen said. "I was proud of my teammates, because they had a great comeback. We almost pulled it out."
Designated hitter Billy Butler had three hits and three knocked in for the visitors, while Mike Moustakas added a solo home run and three RBI of his own. Alcides Escobar raised his batting average to .311 as he piled up three hits and scored three times for the visitors.
Seeking his second straight win and his eighth of the season overall, Max Scherzer is set to start for the Tigers this afternoon in the final game of the first half of the season.
The right-hander has rebounded from a 1-3 start to 2012 and finally has his ERA below five thanks to his latest effort on June 28 when he helped the club capture a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay on the road.
Against the Rays, Scherzer allowed two runs on four hits and a couple of walks, striking out seven through six innings of action.
Scherzer already has one win this season against Kansas City and is 5-4 in his career with a 3.96 ERA in 11 appearances versus the Royals.
Countering for the visitors will be Everett Teaford as he makes just his second career appearance versus Detroit. Most recently the left-hander logged his first win of the campaign with a triumph over Toronto on the road Monday.
Against the Blue Jays Teaford worked through seven innings, giving up three runs on five hits and a couple of walks in an 11-3 decision.
Kansas City's power numbers at the plate are again some of the weakest in all of baseball, with the team ranking last in the AL in total home runs with just 67 over the course of 83 outings. But on a positive note, the Royals are fifth in the league in team batting at .265 and second in doubles (164), trailing only Boston in the latter department.
Detroit hurlers are showing a respectable 4.00 ERA through 85 games and while opponents are hitting .263 against them (third-highest in the AL), the staff does lead the league in strikeouts with 706.
While all of baseball is set to descend on Kauffman Stadium for the All-Star Game this coming week, the Royals must take advantage of their favorable surroundings in the stadium in the second half of the campaign as well, seeing as how they have they fewest home wins in the majors with just 14.