Detroit is 7-1 against Kansas City this season and 3-0 at Kauffman Stadium, where the teams will open a three-game series on Tuesday night. It will be the first of 10 remaining contests on the schedule between the two, including six games at the Royals' home park.
Justin Verlander will take the mound for the Tigers in the series opener, looking to continue his career mastery of the Royals. The right-hander is 14-2 with a 2.36 ERA against Kansas City, and 9-2 with a 1.83 ERA at Kauffman Stadium. In two starts this season, he has held the Royals to four runs over 17 innings -- with 16 strikeouts.
"Any time you can scrape up a couple of runs on Verlander, that's good," Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon said after his team scored twice against Detroit's ace on May 2 at Comerica Park.
Verlander (12-7, 2.50 ERA) has compiled a 1.80 ERA in four August starts, with 40 strikeouts and seven walks in 30 innings. He punched out 12 in a nine-inning no-decision on Thursday against the Blue Jays.
The Royals, who have won 11 of 19, will counter with Luis Mendoza (7-9, 4.26 ERA). The righty will be making his first start this season against the Tigers.
Mendoza is 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA this month, completing at least seven innings on three occasions. But he lasted only 4 1/3 innings on Wednesday against Tampa Bay, walking four, hitting a batter and throwing 38 of his 81 pitches for balls.
"I was behind all day," Mendoza said. "I had trouble with my command."
Tigers: Cabrera getting two days' rest
With Miguel Cabrera still dealing with a sore right ankle and the Tigers getting a day off on Monday, manager Jim Leyland elected to sit his slugger on Sunday against the Angels. By resting Cabrera in a day game after a night game, Leyland could give him a chance to return to the lineup at third base Tuesday.
"What's best for Miguel is best for the Tigers," Leyland said.
Cabrera, sporting a .977 OPS for the season, had made his previous two starts at designated hitter. He is 2-for-17 (.118) with one home run in his past six games.
Delmon Young is batting .324 over his last 18 games, and he followed up a three-hit, two-double performance on Saturday with a double and a home run on Sunday.
Royals: Playing the Tigers close
Of Kansas City's seven losses to Detroit this season, only two have come by wide margins. The other five have come by a total of seven runs.
While the Royals are 20-16 in one-run games this season, that mark is only 1-3 against the Tigers.
Designated hitter Billy Butler has escaped the lack of success most Royals have experienced against Verlander over the years. In 46 career at-bats, Butler is hitting .348 with four doubles, two home runs, three walks and five strikeouts.
The three games in this series are the Tigers' only road contests in an 18-game span.
Mendoza's last start against the Tigers was his first of the 2011 season, on Sept. 20. He gave up two runs (one earned) over seven innings.