With the second half of the season underway, the race for the AL Central is as tight as it’s ever been with four of the five teams in the division all within eight games of each other.
Two of these teams, the (45-53) Detroit Tigers and the (51-47) Kansas City Royals, are locked into a three game series at Comerica Park, the second of which takes place today (7.10pm ET, Tuesday).
The first game of the series saw the Royals defeat their divisional rivals by a score of 5-3. Kansas City got on the board first with a pair of runs in the fourth inning and a third in the sixth. Detroit managed to tie the game with their own three-spot in the bottom half of that same inning and that is where the score remained at the end of regulation. Three extra innings later and the Royals finally took back the lead on a pair of home runs from Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas.
The loss definitely hurt Detroit’s chances to win the AL Central or even earn a wildcard spot, the second of which currently belongs to the Royals. But with two more games left in the set and two more opportunities for the Tigers, this series and playoff race, are far from over.
By the Numbers – Detroit Tigers
As far as recent history goes, the Tigers have consistently been one of the best hitting teams in baseball. With guys like Brandon Inge, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to name a few, the Tigers were real powerhouses. This year however, the story isn’t quite the same.
Detroit still ranks within the top 10 in runs scored and RBI, and the top 15 in hits, but the Tigers are just 17th overall as far as their home run production. This is a far cry from the Tigers who used to lead the league with the power in their bats. The lack of home run hitting can definitely be identified as one of the reasons why Detroit has fallen in the ranks and the standings.
From a pitching perspective, the Tigers rank just 28th, third worst in the league, in ERA at 4.88, and 26th in batting average against at .269. This season, pitching has been part of the reason for Detroit’s below average record, as the rotation hasn’t helped to combat the lower offensive production by the starting nine.
Overall, it’s really been a season of trials for the Tigers as even Cabrera, a former MVP and Triple Crown winner, is batting well below his career average. The .318 career hitter is currently hitting at just a clip of .256 which is not only the worst of his career, but the first time he’d finish a season sub-.300 since 2008. The 34-year-old Cabrera really is the cog that keeps this machine running and his down year is indicative of why the team as a whole has struggled in 2017.
By the Numbers – Kansas City Royals
Over the past few years, bolstered with a young and talented core, the Royals have been one of the best rising teams in baseball. This year has been no different as the Royals have been battling neck and neck with the Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central all season long. Entering this game, they sit just 1.5 games out of first and in possession of the second wildcard spot.
What is surprising however is that Kansas City doesn’t particularly excel from an offensive or pitching standpoint. The team ranks just 25th in runs, 21st in hits, 15th in home runs, 26th in RBI and 20th in batting average and on the mound, ranks 14th in ERA and 18th in batting average against.
So how exactly are the Royals so good? Consistency. Kansas City makes the most of their opportunities and hasn’t lost many close games this year, which is the true sign of a good team. Additionally, the Royals are a cohesive unit and seem to work well to minimize the weaknesses of others and maximize overall strengths. It’s a formula that has worked so well for the team in the past and one that has been working for them so far this year as well.
Pitching Probables: (KC) Danny Duffy vs (DET) Michael Fulmer
It’s been a tough year for Danny Duffy as he has battled with injury and disappointing results as one of Kansas City’s top arms. Duffy will be making just his fifth start since returning from the DL. In the previous four, he has an ERA of 4.46 with 12 runs allowed in just 26 innings pitched. Ironically enough, one of these starts, his last as it turns out, was also against Detroit where he allowed four runs over five innings. Kansas City managed to win that game but they scored most of their runs well after Duffy was chased.
Duffy’s counterpart is Detroit’s Michael Fulmer, the 24-year-old righty who has a better record at home but a much higher ERA at Comerica as well. As the workhorse of the Tigers, Fulmer has pitched over 125 innings already, just 30 or so less than he did all of last year. He’s made 19 starts and has acquitted himself well in them, posting a 3.35 ERA while striking out 89. Fulmer hasn’t faced too many Royals hitters more than a handful of times, but for those who have at least 10 at bats against him, more than not are hitting quite well.
Our Preview’s Kansas City Royals vs Detroit Tigers Game 2 Predictions & Picks
- Following their extra inning victory in game one of the series, the Royals enter this second game as 1.5 road underdogs with the offshore bookies on the spread. However, I’d say the Tigers have the advantage in this one so the prediction is to take Detroit -1.5pts @ best odds of +155 with MyBookie to best the spread.
- As for this preview’s total pick, take the final score of the game to fall over the 8.5 mark @ -110 with 5Dimes or MyBookie.