Which Royals team will show up against Detroit?

It was a matter of time before the Kansas City Royals would lose a series after the All-Star break. And I’m not surprised it was against the lowly Miami Marlins. That’s the way baseball works. But even a team like the Marlins win games if their opponents can’t score runs, commit costly errors or give up key hits.

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Losing the series to the Marlins hasn’t finished the Royals season, but it was a lost opportunity for the team to close on Detroit and the Wild Card race. They’re 7.5 games back of Detroit and 4.5 games back in the Wild Card race after going 4-3 the last seven games. And losing Miguel Tejada for the season and a possible DL stint for Mike Moustakas makes it tougher to gain ground.

But it’s not all bad. After going on a 12-game winning streak, the Tigers went 2-4 their last six games. And the Royals did take two out of three against the Tigers right after the All-Star break. So far this season, the Royals are 5-3 against the Tigers. It won’t be easy, but they can beat them.

But the Tigers have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, led by Justin Verlander. Miguel Cabrera may be hurt, but he’s still an offensive threat. Tigers manager Jim Leyland will make sure the team doesn’t take the Royals for granted. And the games will be in Detroit, so the Royals will be in hostile territory against a motivated team.

How the Royals fare ¬†against Detroit depends on which team shows up. If it’s the post All-Star break team with a lively offense, error-free defense, great starting pitching and a solid bullpen, they could win the series and gain ground on the Tigers. But if it’s the team that played the Marlins with their tepid defense, costly errors and some wobbly bullpen performances (I’m looking at you, Kelvin Herrera), the Tigers can solidify their lead in the A.L Central and the Royals playoff hopes will fade.

The players know this series against the Tigers is crucial. They know if they want to play meaningful games in September and make the playoffs, they have to beat the Tigers and keep winning series. Losing the series against the Tigers won’t end the Royals playoff hopes, but it will hurt their chances.

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