The Kansas City Royals will look to avenge a three-game sweep last week at the hands of the Detroit Tigers as the clubs begin a three-game series in Kansas City on Friday night.
The Royals have won four of six games since that series in Detroit.
The Tigers, coming off a three-game road sweep of the Seattle Mariners, will send right-hander Jose Urena (1-4, 4.22 ERA) to the mound. The Royals will counter with lefty Mike Minor (3-2, 5.02).
Urena took a 109-mph line drive off his right leg in his last start Saturday against the Cubs. He left that game having allowed four runs on five hits in 2 2/3 innings. He has never faced the Royals in his career.
Urena is an innings-eater for the Tigers. He had four straight outings where he pitched seven innings.
The Tigers, who owned the worst record in baseball before sweeping the Royals, have won eight of their past 10. The key against Seattle was outstanding pitching, as Detroit allowed only three runs in the series.
"It feels good because we're playing winning baseball," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said after Wednesday's game. "I think we're playing a cleaner brand of baseball. The at-bats have been very good. Our game-planning has been very good. Our pitching has settled in a little bit. The starters are logging some innings.
"We've found our mojo. It's been a nice little run."
Minor had his best outing of the season in his last start, against the Chicago White Sox. He threw a season-high seven innings and gave up one run. He allowed only two hits (a season low) and struck out seven. He's 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA in 10 appearances (four starts) against Detroit in his career.
The key to the recent success for the Royals has been the bullpen. K.C. relievers have allowed three earned runs in their past 25 innings (over eight games), dating to May 12 in Detroit. That is not lost on Kansas City manager Mike Matheny.
"They're picking each other up," he said Wednesday night after four relievers combined for 3 2/3 innings, giving up one hit and no earned runs. "I thought Jake (Brentz) did a nice job of getting some outs. He handed it off to (Scott) Barlow and Holly (Greg Holland).
"I think Josh (Staumont) is figuring out how to be ready in those leverage situations. Getting it done when you don't have your best stuff is a huge next step."
A week earlier, the Royals closed an 11-game losing streak with the three losses against the Tigers. Matheny definitely likes the current feeling better than how he felt then.
"I think there's a number of us that lost weight that weren't anticipating losing," he said. "We lost sleep. You forget how hard those (runs) are. You forget how consuming they are."
--Field Level Media