The Kansas City Royals slipped out of the wild card race over the last week and are staring instead at an uncertain future. The Royals will try to give their fans something to celebrate when they host the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series.
Kansas City had its elimination number reduced to one with an 11-3 loss at the New York Yankees on Monday and is approaching the end of an era with franchise cornerstones Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar all set to reach free agency at the end of the season. “You’re definitely aware of the possibility that could happen,” Royals manager Ned Yost told reporters of all four players leaving after the season. “These guys have been going so hard this year and they’re all beat down. You would really like to just give them a couple days off, but it’s hard to do because our fans are going to want to see them.” The Tigers (62-94) are headed toward their worst record since the 2003 squad lost 119 games and got more bad news on Monday when it was revealed that slugger Miguel Cabrera is dealing with two herniated discs in his back and could miss the rest of the season. Detroit will try to show some fight and end a seven-game slide when it sends right-hander Anibal Sanchez to the mound on Tuesday opposite Royals lefty Jason Vargas.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (3-5, 6.68 ERA) vs. Royals LH Jason Vargas (17-10, 4.03)
Sanchez is coming on strong at the end of the season and allowed a total of two runs over 12 innings while striking out 19 in his last two turns. The Venezuela native was terrible prior to those last two turns and saw his ERA spike at 7.43 after allowing seven runs on 12 hits across 4 2/3 innings at Toronto on Sept. 10. Sanchez threw just five pitches before leaving a start against the Royals on Sept. 5 with a calf injury and allowed a total of five runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings against Kansas City this season.
Vargas is authoring a similar turnaround and picked up the win in his last three starts while allowing a total of four runs over 16 1/3 innings. The California native was knocked around for a combined 20 runs in 17 2/3 innings during a string of four straight losses that began on Aug. 19. Vargas got the start against Sanchez in that Sept. 5 meeting and was lit up for seven runs on six hits and a walk over two innings.
1. Tigers 3B Jeimer Candelario (knee) sat out Sunday but is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday.
2. Kansas City C Salvador Perez is 13-for-32 with three homers in his last nine games.
3. Detroit 3B Nick Castellanos hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games.
PREDICTION: Royals 7, Tigers 4