With ace Justin Verlander on the mound, Detroit took a 9-8 loss on Tuesday in one of the right-hander's worst starts of his career.
Now, the Tigers turn to right-hander Anibal Sanchez (2-3, 6.33 ERA), who they hope has found his groove in the American League. After posting a 7.97 ERA and allowing five runs or more in three of his first four starts with the Tigers, Sanchez held Toronto to one earned run in 6 2/3 innings while striking out six his last time out.
"His stuff was really electric, probably as crisp as it's been since we got him," catcher Alex Avila said. "He looked great using all of his pitches, had real good life on his fastball and good action on everything else."
It will be the first time in Sanchez's seven-year career to face the Royals. The Tigers have won five of their last seven games coming into Wednesday's contest and are 7-2 this year vs. Kansas City -- the only other loss was back on May 2.
The Royals will counter with left-hander Bruce Chen, whom the Tigers torched for six runs in 3 1/3 innings last month. And while they're all but out of the playoff race, the Royals are a young team capable of upsetting some contenders, as they did vs. the White Sox last week and Verlander in the series opener.
Chen had his worst month of the season in July, going 0-3 with a 8.31 ERA and recording just one quality start in six chances. However, the 35-year-old has shown signs of improvement with back-to-back six-inning outings.
He gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings, but received a no-decision against the Red Sox.
Tigers: Cabrera returns to third base
Chen will especially have his hands full with Miguel Cabrera, who returned to third base after serving as the designated hitter for two games against the Angels and then missing the series finale on Sunday with right ankle soreness.
"The trainers seem to think it was good timing for him," manager Jim Leyland said. "Hopefully it was a good move. It was a good move, whether it worked or not.
Cabrera is 10-for-23 (.435) against Chen in his career with two doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs and seven walks.
Whether Doug Fister will be ready to start Friday's series opener against Chicago remains up in the air. But a decision is expected soon. Fister threw a bullpen on Tuesday and said he felt good, but would wait until Wednesday before making anything official.
Leyland elected to keep left-hander Drew Smyly around as an insurance policy. If Fister can't go, Smyly will make the start. If he can, Leyland said Smyly goes to the bullpen.
Royals: Myers, Verdugo named All-Stars
Outfielder Wil Myers and left-handed pitcher Ryan Verdugo were named to the 12-player All-Pacific Coast League team, selected by PCL managers, general managers and media. In 93 games with Triple-A Omaha, Myers posted a .294 average with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs. Verdugo has a 12-3 record and 3.37 ERA in 22 starts.
Royals' prospect Mark Donato, a first baseman with the Rookie classification club at Surprise, Ariz., was suspended 50 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the Commissioner's Office announced on Tuesday.
Donato, 20, tested positive for an amphetamine. He was the Royals' 26th-round choice in this year's First-Year Player Draft.
Chen is 4-5 with a 6.10 ERA in 15 starts and 13 appearances vs. Detroit in his 14-year career.
The Royals tagged Verlander for 12 hits and eight earned runs on Tuesday night. For the reigning American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, it was the second-most hits he's allowed in his career. The White Sox had 13 on Aug. 11, 2006.