Detroit Tigers (51-37) at Kansas City Royals (47-44), 8:10 p.m. (ET)

 

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Kansas City Royals may actually be contending in the American League Central if they could just beat the Detroit Tigers at home.

Kansas City looks to slice into the Tigers' divisional lead and beat them for the first time in five games at Kauffman Stadium this season on Friday when the rivals resume their four-game series.

The Royals fell to 0-4 at home versus the Tigers on Thursday, as Torii Hunter had three hits, including a homer, and knocked in three runs to power Detroit to a 16-4 rout.

Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez also drove in three runs for the Tigers, who improved to 15-5 in their last 20 games and increased their lead over the Royals to 5 1/2 games for first place in the AL Central.

They plated a season-high 16 runs just two days after scoring 14 in a win over the Dodgers on Tuesday, when they had a season-best 20 hits.

Drew Smyly (5-8) pitched 6 2/3 innings for the win, giving up four runs on eight hits and a walk.

"We just wanted to come in here and finish (the first half of the season) on a really good note," said Smyly. "We have three more games but it's a good way to start the series off."

Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer homered for the Royals.

Jeremy Guthrie (5-8) lasted just four-plus innings for Kansas City. The right- hander was charged with eight runs on eight hits and three walks after giving up six runs and 11 hits in four innings against Cleveland on Saturday.

The Royals bullpen gave up 11 hits and eight runs.

"We didn't pitch good tonight. That's the bottom line," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "And that's why they scored a bunch of runs."

Getting the call for the Tigers on Friday will be righty Anibal Sanchez, who is 5-3 with a 3.18 ERA. Sanchez lost to Tampa on Saturday, as the Rays battered him for seven runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Sanchez also walked four batters in the loss.

"I had a really good game plan, and I got a really good four innings," Sanchez said after the game. "I think the homer and the walk, I think everything changed right there, and my ball started being up in the strike zone."

Sanchez beat KC the last time he faced them and is 4-2 in six starts against them with a 1.04 ERA.

Kansas City, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Danny Duffy, who is 5-8 with a 2.86 ERA. Duffy lost for the third time in four starts on Sunday in Cleveland, as he gave up four runs and 10 hits in six innings.

Duffy has struggled against the Tigers in eight starts, going a mere 1-5 with a 3.68 ERA.

Detroit is 7-3 versus Kansas City on the year.

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