(SportsNetwork.com) - All alone atop the American League Central, the red-hot Kansas City Royals target their 10th straight victory Wednesday in the third portion of a four-game series against the rival Detroit Tigers.
The Royals have taken the first two games of this series at Comerica Park in convincing fashion, as they posted an 11-8 victory Monday and handed the hosts an 11-4 setback Tuesday night.
Both of Detroit's aces, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, have been beaten down and the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner was the latest victim. Scherzer was hammered for 10 runs on 10 hits, including two home runs, in just four innings. A seven-run second inning by Kansas City was enough damage.
"You have to bring it every single night," said Scherzer. "That's what makes the major leagues so much fun, is because of how good everybody is."
Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas both hit two-run homers in the second inning, while Omar Infante drove in three runs and Alcides Escobar finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored for the Royals, winners in nine straight and 12 of the last 14 games. The Royals, who sit a half-game ahead of Detroit in the AL Central, won nine in a row last July 22 - Aug. 1.
Yordano Ventura won his start for KC and allowed three runs in seven innings.
The Royals are in sole possession of first place in the AL Central this late in a season (70 or more games) for the first time since August of 2003. They improved to 13-15 in division play after a 5-15 start and are 32-4 when scoring at least four runs in a game, including eight times in the nine games of this current win streak.
Royals right fielder Nori Aoki left Tuesday's game in the second inning with a balky groin and is day-to-day. Aoki is hitting .261 with 14 RBI this season.
Kansas City starter Jeremy Guthrie hasn't won back-to-back outings since starting the season 2-0 and will get the call this afternoon. Guthrie ended a lengthy winless drought (0-6, 11 starts) in last Friday's 7-2 win over the Chicago White Sox and allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Guthrie improved to 3-6 with a 4.04 earned run average and prevailed for the first time since April 9 versus Tampa Bay. The right-hander is 1-2 in seven road starts this season and 7-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 18 career meetings (15 starts) with the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Ian Kinsler homered and J.D. Martinez finished with three hits and a run scored last night for the Tigers. Martinez is riding a seven-game hit streak with 11 total hits and six RBI in that time.
Miguel Cabrera was 0-for-2 and hasn't homered since June 9 at Chicago. He owns 30 doubles, 21 homers and 82 RBI lifetime against Kansas City. Torii Hunter did not play Tuesday because of a hamstring issue suffered in Monday's loss. He could miss the rest of this series and has nine home runs and 35 RBI.
"Hopefully by the Cleveland series, I'll be ready to go," Hunter said on the club's official website.
Detroit fell to 9-19 since May 19 with Tuesday's loss.
"Teams do go through losing streaks and slumps, but this has been a little bit more than what it should've been. And the question is: How do you fix it,?" said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
The Tigers hope to fix it fast and keep the Royals from winning this series, and now have an 18-18 record at Comerica Park.
Detroit will hand the ball to Drew Smyly on Wednesday and he is looking to bounce back from a tough loss last Friday. Smyly allowed a home run in six innings of a 2-0 loss to Minnesota and is 1-3 in his last four starts and 1-4 in his previous five decisions.
Smyly, a left-hander, is 3-5 with a 3.58 earned run average this season and 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in 11 career games (3 starts) against Kansas City.
The Tigers had won the first five meetings with Kansas City until Monday's loss and this four-game set was made possible due to a rainout on April 3.