Thanks to some stellar pitching, the Kansas City Royals will be shooting for a four-game sweep of the host Detroit Tigers on Monday.
The Tigers have been limited to three runs in the series.
Kansas City used a quartet of pitchers to shut them down on Sunday, beginning with veteran left-hander Danny Duffy, who tossed the first five innings. Mike Minor and Brady Singer dominated Detroit’s hitters in the first two games of the series.
“I love when the rotation starts to see it as healthy competition, where they spend a lot of time together,” manager Mike Matheny said. “You can tell they’re paying close attention and trying to not just feed off of what the other guy did, but learn from what the previous guy did. Go out and try to see if they can one-up the last guy.”
Brad Keller is the next in line to get his shot at the Tigers. He’ll try to bounce back from a poor outing when he gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Keller (1-2, 12.00 ERA), who pitches to contact, has walked nine batters in 12 innings, including three in his abbreviated outing against the Rays.
“I can’t pick up my defense when I walk three guys in an inning,” Keller said. “That’s tough. Unlucky bounces and got out of my rhythm. Tried to do too much. Walked guys. It was pretty tough.”
In 10 career outings against the Tigers, including six starts, Keller is 3-3 with a 2.83 ERA.
Overall, Kansas City carries a four-game winning streak into Monday’s contest. The series in Detroit kicked off a nine-game road swing.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence,” said third baseman Hunter Dozier, who blasted his second homer of the season in Sunday’s 4-0 victory. “We’re picking each other up, it’s just fun playing right now.”
Spencer Turnbull will start the series finale for Detroit. He made his season debut on Wednesday a winning one, as he held Pittsburgh to one run on two hits in five innings. Turnbull, who had a 4-4 record and 3.97 ERA in 11 starts last season, held the Pirates hitless after the first inning.
“First inning felt kind of iffy, didn’t have my command quite yet,” Turnbull said. “But once I settled in and figured out my leg lift, I locked it in from there.”
Turnbull has some odd splits in his career and his lack of day-game success stands out. He’s 1-14 with a 5.46 ERA in 19 career afternoon starts.
In six career starts against the Royals, he’s 0-2 despite a 3.27 ERA.
Detroit has lost nine of its last 10 games, scraping together just 13 runs in those losses. The return of Miguel Cabrera failed to provide a spark Sunday. Cabrera, who was activated from the 10-day injured list after recovering from a biceps strain, went 0-for-4 and struck out three times.
Manager A.J. Hinch looks at the matinee on Monday as “another opportunity to get past this.”
“The hard part is not carrying this at all into the next day,” he said. “Today, we couldn’t get anything started. They had a lot of opportunities and we kept it pretty close until the end. But not putting up anything offensively is frustrating everybody.”
–Field Level Media