The Detroit Tigers finally are back at the .500 mark, but that hardly seems like an accomplishment given their preseason expectations. Doug Fister isn't exactly playing up to standards, either, after a promising 2011 campaign. Fister will look to get back on track and help Detroit to its first four-game winning streak since the early stages of the season when he faces the Kansas City Royals Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park. The Tigers (42-42) had failed in their previous eight attempts to reach the .500 mark for the first time since May 15, but Delmon Young's go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning held up in Friday's series-opening 4-2 victory. Picked by most this spring to repeat as AL Central champs but currently four games behind the first-place White Sox, Detroit hasn't won four straight since April 15-18, a streak capped by a three-game sweep of Kansas City.
The Tigers acquired Fister from Seattle at the trade deadline last season. The right-hander proceeded to go 10-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 12 starts and two relief appearances including postseason, but he's struggled in 2012. Fister (1-6, 4.61 ERA) hasn't been able to get past the fifth inning in either of his last two outings. He gave up a career-worst nine runs in 4 1-3 innings of a 13-9 loss to Texas on June 27, then allowed six runs in four innings of Monday's 6-4 defeat against Minnesota to fall to 1-4 with a 7.82 ERA over his last five outings.
The Royals (37-45) seek to recover with the help of Bruce Chen, who is looking to bounce back from a tough outing himself. Chen (7-7, 4.83) had won two straight starts before giving up six runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-8 loss to Minnesota on Sunday. The left-hander allowed five of the runs in the sixth while squandering a four-run lead. The left-hander has now surrendered 13 long balls on the season with seven of those coming over his last six starts.. Chen is 3-2 with a 4.78 ERA over that stretch to go along with 26 strikeouts compared to just five walks.
We get an extremely reasonable price in this spot in the heat expected in Detroit's Comerica Park this afternoon. Amidst KC's struggles so far this season, they have performed slightly higher than expectations overall given the logjam at the top of the AL Central. The Royals have hit around .266 collectively and while not showcasing a lot of power, have gotten some selective timely hitting. Billy Butler (.289 16 49) and Mike Moustakas (.269 14 44) have provided plenty of pop in the first halfas has Eric Hosmer (.230 9 39) despite his inconsistency. Alcedies Escobar leads the team in hitting with a .305 mark and now would be as good a time as any for Jeff Francouer (.253 7 25) to battle his struggles against a subpar Fister as we close out the first half. While Detroit looks to make a divisional push officialy hitting mediocrity, Chen will face a lineup also hitting .266 collectively with a little more punch. Miguel Cabrera (.327 18 70) has really come on as of late hitting .500 with 3 HR and 12 RBI over his last 10 games. Prince Fielder (.297 13 58) has also found his stroke and are both complemented by Austin Jackson (.329 9 37) who leads the Tigers in hitting. Except for Delmon Young (.268 8 34), the middle and lower part of the lineup needs to be instrumental in the second half as guys like Brennan Boesch (.239 8 31) have undeachieved. We think the offenses will have their way this afternoon. Best of luck however you play!