By NOAH TRISTER/AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) – Now the series between the Royals and Tigers takes on a new level of intrigue.
Wade Davis against Max Scherzer on Wednesday. James Shields against Justin Verlander on Thursday.
Those pitching matchups came about because Kansas City and Detroit were rained out Tuesday night. That was supposed to be the opener of a three-game series between the up-and-coming Royals and the defending AL Central champions from Detroit.
There was no makeup date announced, so the teams will instead play only two games this week. Both bumped their Tuesday starters to Wednesday – Davis for Kansas City and Scherzer for Detroit. The Royals will then skip Luis Mendoza in the rotation, leaving Shields to pitch Thursday. Verlander will take the mound that day, too, after originally being scheduled for Wednesday.
The rainout gave Kansas City its fifth day off in nine days. The Royals had a game at Boston on Friday postponed because of the manhunt for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
The Royals also had a scheduled day off Monday, and then the postponement in Detroit.
“It feels almost like getting at-bats for the first time in spring again,” Kansas City designated hitter Billy Butler said. “Except these ones count. I’m sure in their own respect it’s affecting the pitchers, too.”
Butler homered Sunday in the second game of a doubleheader against Boston – and the Royals haven’t played since.
“The more at-bats you get, the more comfortable you are, and we’re not getting them at all,” he said.
Kansas City is 10-7 and hoping to unseat the Tigers atop the division. The Royals sent prospect Wil Myers to Tampa Bay in the offseason, acquiring Shields and Davis from the Rays. So far, Shields is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA, and Davis is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
“Our pitching’s been much improved, our defense has been very, very solid,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Offensively, we still haven’t hit our stride, but are scoring enough runs to win ballgames. I like our energy.”
Davis’ performance is particularly encouraging for the Royals. He is making the transition back to being a starter after pitching in relief last year for Tampa Bay.
“I’ve been very impressed,” Yost said. “That’s why we got him – because we knew he’d be able to do that.”
Detroit has lost four straight, falling to 9-9. Yost didn’t want to put too much emphasis on this early series.
“We just came off a big series in Boston, one of the hottest teams in baseball,” he said. “We played the Atlanta Braves, one of the hottest teams in baseball – stopped streaks on both of those teams. I think we’ve got enough confidence in ourselves. We come in feeling good.
“We know it’s a long year. We know we’ve got a lot of games, but we’ve got confidence in each other. Offense has confidence in the pitching, the pitching has confidence in the defense and the offense. It’s just a good combination.”
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