Well the Royals played the best of the west and well that pretty much sums up the series. They got shut out in game one. They squeaked by in game two. Despite the one man wrecking crew, Betancourt, the Royals fell 4-3 in the series finale. The Royals will host the Detroit Tigers to wrap up this six-game home stand. The Royals will be throwing their three best pitchers against the three best pitchers the Tigers have to offer.
Game 1: Jeremy Bonderman (7-9) vs. Zack Greinke (8-11)
Jeremy Bonderman has been having one of his worse seasons in his career. He has been plagued by injuries after going 14-8 in 2006 and 11-9 in 2007. In fact, Friday’s start will mark only his 45th appearance since the beginning of the 2008 season. He missed his last start but is set to be okay for game one of this series. Career wise he is 10-7 vs. the Royals including a winning performance on August 23rd. Betancourt has had his number though. Betancourt is batting .474 against him.
In his career, Zack Greinke has tamed the Tigers. He posts an 11-5 career record against them with an impressive ERA of 2.45. Greinke did a remarkable job in his last start but he ended up not being a part of the final win-loss decision. Of all the current Tigers hitters, only Brandon Inge has a homerun off of Greinke. This is quite a feat considering who else is on their roster. Greinke has kept Cabrera in the ball park during the 23 official at bats Cabrera has against him.
Game 2: Rick Porcello (7-11) vs. Bruce Chen (9-7)
Porcello struggled early on this season but has shaped up considerable since the All-Star Break. He improved to a 2-1 career record against the Royals by tossing seven shutout innings in Detroit last week. Furthermore, his ERA has dropped a half a point after his past two starts while giving up only 1 earned run in fourteen innings. He is a sinker ball pitcher so the Royals will need to either wait for a mistake pitch up in the zone or hit it hard enough on the ground to find a hole somewhere.
If anyone would have said at the beginning of the season that Bruce Chen was going to win more games than Zack Greinke by September, they would have been laughed off their soap box. Well this is baseball and anything can happen. Bruce Chen is proving that he still has something left to offer at the Major League level. Unfortunately, he hasn’t proven that to Detroit over his ten-year career. He is 1-3 with an outlandish ERA of 6.47. Cabrera and Damon have two home runs each against him. Chen will have to pitch like he has in his eight wins as a starter and keep the ball in the ballpark.
Game 3: Armando Galarraga (4-5) vs. Kyle Davies (6-9)
Gallarraga has been solid in his recent starts. In fact his ERA during his last three starts 1.40. But, despite having that incredible stat, he only has one win to show for his efforts. Detroit’s bullpen has been “off” on the nights he started and blew the leads he had protected. He could very easily be above .500. If he pitches like he has in the rest of his previous performances against the Royals, he will have a good chance of getting to that .500 mark. He is 2-0 lifetime versus the Royals with an ERA of 2.56.
Kyle Davies had one of his best starts of his career as a Royal last time out. Unfortunately he was a victim of lackofrunsupportitis in game one of the Ranger series. He pitched into the ninth inning for the longest outing of his career as well. However his start right before that was a thumping put on by the Tigers. If he pitches like he did against Texas, he should be able to Cabrera (has three home runs in his career against Davies) and company in the ball park.
The Royals have been hot or cold recently in terms of offensive production but so have the Tigers. The Royals are just five points better than the Tigers in team batting average but the Tigers have smacked twenty-five more home runs and have a twenty higher slugging percentage. The heart of the Royals need to piece together a few solid innings in each game in order to give their pitching staff the run support they need. With Kendall now out for the rest of the season, the no. 2 spot in the lineup is going to need to be filled. Kendall was a solid number two hitter who could inside-out on a hit-and-run, or bunt the runner over as well.
Well the Royals will miss Kendall’s presence behind the plate as well. Pena and the rookie May will fill in for Kendall for the remainder of the season. As teams though, the Royals are last in the American League in fielding percentage, while Detroit is in a three way tie for fifth. The Tigers have also turned almost twenty more double plays this season in less innings.
Both teams are putting their best foot forward in terms of their starters. The biggest question is, once they are out, which bullpen will show up and finish out strong? If the Royals can get to Soria, it is almost a lock for the Royals to get the W. The same can be said of the Tigers closer, Valverde. He has converted 24 out of 26 save opportunities this season. Both closers may some day be mentioned along the same lines as Rivera in terms of their effectiveness over their careers.
The Royals get the day off before playing this weekend, while Detroit lost to Minnesota 2-1 on Thursday and then had to take the puddle jump from Minneapolis to KC. These two teams are really familiar with each other and it will depend on which team brings their “A” game this weekend on who will take the series.