Matchup: Kansas City Royals vs. Detroit Tigers
Venue: Comerica Park; Detroit, MI
First Pitch: 1:08 PM EST
Television- Detroit- FSD; Kansas City- FS-Kansas City
The Detroit Tigers come into the 2014 season with a completely new look than they had for the 2013 campaign. This team is no longer the team that will beat you with pure power, but instead are a team that is expected to use speed and small ball to score most of their runs this season. This Spring, the Tigers already have shown that they plan on being more active on the base paths to try and manufacture runs. Failure to produce runs in close games is what eventually did the Tigers in last season in the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox. The Tigers will once again be led by their strong rotation and the most dangerous hitter on the planet in Miguel Cabrera. The combination of those factors have the Tigers primed to capture their fourth consecutive AL Central crown.
The Kansas City Royals have been hearing for years that this is the year that they are going to finally break out and be competitive in the AL Central. That may certainly be the case this season. Outside of the Cleveland Indians, the Royals give the Tigers their stiffest competition for the division title. The Royals have been able to use use and the right amount, though very minimal, of veteran leadership to increase their win totals year after year. The Royals have always played the Tigers tough so there is no reason that will not happen again this season. Billy Butler has a career average over .300 against Tigers ace Justin Verlander while coming up with big hits over his career against him.
Starting for the Tigers will be ace Justin Verlander. Verlander had a poor season last year, comparing to the standard that has been set by himself the previous few years. Verlander pitched his way to a 13-12 record with a 3.46 ERA, both his worst since his forgetful 2008 season. This Spring, Verlander has been on point after core surgery in the offseason. He did not allow a run in 20.1 innings pitched and limited opponent hitters to a .127 average over the course of the Spring.
Starting for the Royals will be James Shields. In his first season with the Royals, Shields was the ace of a rotation that has not been able to get the team over the hump. Shields put up a respectable 13-9 record with a 3.15 GAA in 218.2 innings pitched.