The Kansas City Royals will host the Detroit Tigers on Sunday afternoon to conclude a four-game series, and both teams need to start clicking on offense.
The chore of keeping the opponent struggling will fall to Kansas City’s Carlos Hernandez (0-0, 8.31 ERA) and Detroit’s Tyler Alexander (0-0, 5.06 ERA).
The Tigers won the first two games before Kansas City took Saturday’s contest, 3-1.
Both teams have struggled to score runs so far this season. The Royals are averaging just 3.125 runs per game, tied for third worst in the American League. One of the two clubs averaging fewer runs is Detroit (3.11 runs per game).
Hunter Dozier’s two-run homer in the sixth inning Saturday gave the Royals the winning cushion. That came after they squandered plenty of scoring opportunities in the first three innings, going just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
The Royals are 11th in the American League with a .207 batting average. The Tigers are 13th (.201). The Tigers are also 13th in OPS (.608). The Royals are dead last (.566).
Who will break out of their collective slumps first?
Hernandez was more effective than his stat line appeared in his first start, allowing four runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings against Cleveland on April 11. But after loading the bases with no outs the first, he limited the damage to two runs. He seemed to be cruising until a two-run home run by Oscar Mercado in the fourth.
“After the first, I thought he had everything going,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of Hernandez’s outing. “A couple infield hits didn’t help him in the first. The walks. But we’re just going to have to get past that.
“After that, I thought he settled down. I thought he looked pretty good. Unfortunately, a couple of longer innings got him to a point where he hadn’t really been too far (beyond) this spring. But overall, I thought he did a nice job of gaining his composure and keeping us in the game.”
Hernandez has faced the Tigers four times in his career (three starts). He’s 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA. His biggest problem has been his control, as he has issued eight walks in 12 1/3 innings.
Alexander will be making his first career start against the Royals, though he has faced them seven times in his career. He’s 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA.
Alexander allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings in his first start of the year against Boston. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out four.
“I threw a lot of two-seem (fastballs), mostly away to righties,” he said after his start. “And then I threw a lot of changeups. I didn’t throw too many cutters, which was unlike me. I got a lot of ground balls. It’s good to have a good defense behind you.”
The Tigers really could use a long outing by Alexander on Sunday after having to get six innings from the bullpen on Saturday. Matt Manning had to leave after two innings with right shoulder discomfort.
–Field Level Media