Second-year lefty Duane Below makes his first start of the season tonight when the Detroit Tigers open a three-game series with the visiting Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park.

Below, a 26-year-old Michigan native, gets the call in place of regular starter Doug Fister, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his left side.

Below debuted in the majors with two starts in 14 appearances with the Tigers in 2011 and had made five outings in relief so far in 2012, winning a pair of decisions while tossing 12 scoreless innings of seven-hit ball.

He's not walked a batter this season and has struck out seven.

He faced the Royals three times last season and pitched seven innings in relief while giving up four runs on six hits in seven innings.

Kansas City counters with 28-year-old righty Luke Hochevar, who looks for a third win in four decisions this spring.

The former No. 1 overall draft choice won a career-high 11 games in 31 starts last season and opened 2012 with a defeat of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in his initial start on April 7.

He was beaten by the Cleveland Indians for his lone loss six days later, but returned to beat the Indians on April 25 after allowing two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Hochevar is 4-4 in 11 career meetings with the Tigers with a 5.25 earned run average in 61 2/3 innings.

On Sunday in Minnesota, Josh Willingham went 3-for-5 with a two-run triple and two runs scored as the Twins topped the Royals, 7-4, in the finale of a rain- shortened two-game series at Target Field.

Mike Moustakas clubbed a solo homer and added an RBI single, while Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar had an RBI apiece for the Royals, who had their three-game winning streak halted. Billy Butler added three hits in the loss.

Bruce Chen (0-3) was hammered for six runs on six hits and two walks while fanning one in just 2 2/3 innings of work.

In New York, CC Sabathia threw eight strong innings for his third straight win, leading the Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Tigers in the finale of a three-game series.

Prince Fielder had a solo homer for the Tigers, but starter Max Scherzer (1-3) labored through 4 2/3 innings to take the loss. He walked seven batters and gave up three runs and seven hits with four strikeouts.

Detroit recently swept the Royals in three games from April 16-18 in KC.