KANSAS CITY -- For the Tigers, things in August have gone south against southpaws.
Detroit is just 5-5 in games started by left-handers this month. Those starters allowed a total of just 26 earned runs in 10 games.
The latest rough effort came in Wednesday's 1-0 loss, when Royals lefty Bruce Chen dominated the Detroit offense, allowing just four hits over eight innings. It was the third straight game in which a lefty starter has allowed two earned runs or fewer to the Tigers.
Thankfully for the Tigers, their starters have pitched well, too. Despite being held pretty much in check by three straight lefties in a recent series against Toronto, Detroit won all three games. And, even in Wednesday's loss, Anibal Sanchez pitched terrifically, allowing just one run over seven innings.
But the offense has struggled. One player particularly slumping against lefty starters is first baseman Prince Fielder, who is hitting just .255 this season, compared to .335 against righties.
It all comes into play as the Tigers gear up for a three-game weekend series at home with the White Sox, the team they're chasing in the American League Central. Two of the three contests will feature opposing lefties, with Francisco Liriano pitching on Saturday and Chris Sale going on Sunday for Chicago.
For Liriano, it will be his first start against Detroit since Aug. 15 of last season, when he picked up a win. He's faced the Tigers twice this season as a reliever with the Twins. He pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning on May 17, but he relinquished four runs on five hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings on May 25. Sale is 0-2 in two prior starts this season against the Tigers.
Tigers making mark against Royals relievers
KANSAS CITY -- Despite dropping the first two games in the series, the Tigers had done something that few have: They succeeded against the Royals' bullpen.
The Royals' relief corps has been at or near the top of the rankings most of the season -- boasting a 3.06 ERA heading into Thursday's series finale. But in the first two contests -- a total of five innings -- the Tigers picked up five hits, three walks and two runs off Kansas City relievers.
The Tigers also threatened to turn games around twice against closer Greg Holland, putting two baserunners on in back-to-back ninth innings. On Tuesday, Delmon Young came within inches of hitting a three-run home run off the closer, and on Wednesday, Holland needed a highlight-reel catch from center fielder Jarrod Dyson to prevent a potential rally.
"He's always had a great arm. He's got that split. He's always been a guy with big-time velocity," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of Holland. "They've got some real good arms out there, very good, very aggressive. [Kelvin] Herrera's got a hell of an arm. [Aaron] Crow's got a real good arm. Holland's got a real good arm. They've got some good arms."
Leyland complimented the hard-throwing Royals' relievers, but added that increased exposure to those types of pitchers make hitting pitches in the upper 90s a little easier.
"They're all over the bullpens everywhere now," the skipper said. "That's just the way it is. That's the new world of baseball. Relievers on every team, they've got them all coming in throwing 96, 97, 95, 98.
"I think it's like anything else. You're so used to seeing them come out of every bullpen, not just one. It's night after night, really. It doesn't matter who you're playing. The [Nate] Jones kid in Chicago has got a great arm, [Addison] Reed's got a big arm, [Matt] Thornton's got a big, big arm. You see them every night. ... They've all got big arms now. That's more the rule than the exception anymore."
Tigers focused on scoring wins in division race
KANSAS CITY -- Despite being locked in a race for a division title, the Tigers aren't scoreboard watching.
Well, maybe that's not entirely true.
"You see the scoreboards from Day 1 of the season. There right there with these modern stadiums. Every score in baseball you see every day of the year, practically. At some point, they're a little more important than others," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's not like people are staring at a scoreboard, but everyone sees them. They're all over. That's why they have them in the ballparks: to update everybody on what other teams are doing. That's what they're there for."
So it appears that the Tigers are certainly seeing the scores from around the league -- including those of the American League Central-leading White Sox -- during the games. But, still, it's not about that, according to Leyland.
"You've got to just win games, take care of your own business, regardless of what the outcome of somebody else's game is," he said.
Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.