The Detroit Tigers know full well the importance of their upcoming weekend showdown with the Chicago White Sox as the teams battle for the AL Central lead.
The problem is they've seemed to overlook the Kansas City Royals in their current series.Detroit looks to avoid the sweep Thursday at the hands of Kansas City, which is seeking its ninth win in 10 games at Kauffman Stadium.The Tigers and White Sox are in a two-team race for the division title, and the teams begin a crucial three-game series Friday night at Detroit.Detroit (69-60), though, has dropped back-to-back games with the Royals following Wednesday's 1-0 defeat and fell three games behind Chicago, which won Wednesday night.The Tigers mustered only six hits while being shut out for the first time since falling to the Los Angeles Angels on July 17. Miguel Cabrera went 1 for 4 and is hitting .192 over his last eight games."That's baseball," manager Jim Leyland told the team's official website. "We have no excuse. We didn't score runs. It's hard to complain ... when you don't score runs."Detroit, which also is two games behind Baltimore for the second wild-card spot, will send Rick Porcello to the mound hoping to build some momentum for its weekend series.Porcello (9-9, 4.60 ERA) lost his third straight start Friday when he gave up two runs in six innings of a 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels, but he hasn't received a single run of support in his last two outings while striking out six in each.The right-hander, who also didn't allow a run through five innings in either start, will look for another solid outing against Kansas City, which he beat May 1 after giving up three runs in eight innings of a 9-3 victory.Porcello is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in his last four starts versus the Royals, who have won five straight at home.Kansas City (58-71), which last swept Detroit in a three-game set Sept. 8-10, 2009, got its lone run Wednesday in the fourth inning on a bloop single by Eric Hosmer."Isn't it amazing? You can go up there and hit three lasers at guys, and then have a hit like that and it ends up deciding the game," Hosmer said.The Royals will send Jeremy Guthrie to the mound looking to even the season series with the Tigers at three games apiece.Guthrie (2-3, 4.32) entered Saturday's start having not allowed an earned run in 22 2/3 innings, but he gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 10-9, 12-inning win over Boston."I wasn't sharp," Guthrie said. "I really didn't execute too many pitches. When I was down, I missed down; when I wasn't down, I was up middle."The right-hander had another short outing June 17 when he faced the Tigers while with Colorado, giving up four runs and eight hits in three innings of a 5-0 loss.He's 0-2 with a 7.98 ERA in his last three starts versus Detroit.