There may not be a pitcher who has been better through two starts than Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander, yet he still doesn't have a win to show for his efforts. Tonight, he aims for his first victory of the season when the Tigers open a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
After throwing eight scoreless innings on Opening Day only to see closer Jose Valverde blow the lead, Verlander may have been even better his second time out and matched his debut, but this time he ran out of steam in the ninth and received a loss against Tampa Bay.
Verlander had given up just two hits in eight scoreless innings his second time out, but was charged with four runs in the ninth and received the loss.
"Once a couple guys got on, really the first time I've cranked it up like that - and lost a little bit of my consistency that I'd had all day," Verlander said. "It's inexcusable. This loss rests solely on my shoulders."
The American League's reigning MVP and Cy Young Award winner has dominated the Royals over the course of his career, especially of late. He is 4-0 in his last four starts against them with a 1.82 ERA and is 13-2 lifetime versus the Royals with a 2.40 ERA in 19 starts.
Detroit avoided a three-game sweep in Chicago on Sunday, as Rick Porcello went 7 2/3 strong innings in a 5-2 win over the White Sox. Gerald Laird went 3- for-4 with a solo home run while Ramon Santiago and Prince Fielder each had an RBI for Detroit, which had dropped three of its last four.
Porcello (1-0) allowed just one run -- an eighth-inning homer to Dayan Viciedo -- on five hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out four.
"We were just able to bounce back off a good performance by Ricky (Porcello)," said Laird. "It was definitely a big win for us to come in here and at least get one."
Kansas City, meanwhile, was swept over the weekend by the Cleveland Indians, dropping Sunday's finale 13-7. Chris Getz went 3-for-5 with two RBI, while Brayan Pena had four hits and an RBI for the Royals, who have dropped four in a row and five of their last six games.
Luis Mendoza (0-2) was rocked for nine runs -- five earned -- on nine hits and four walks in four-plus innings.
"The first time around the rotation, we were the best in baseball," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "The second time around, we're probably the worst in baseball. They'll settle down. It's like everything else, it goes in cycles."
Tonight, Danny Duffy gets the call trying to duplicate a brilliant effort his first time out. Duffy held the Oakland Athletics to a hit in six scoreless innings to nail down the win. He also struck out eight and walked four in that one.
Duffy has struggled in three starts versus the Tigers, going 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA.
The Tigers were 11-7 against the Royals last season.