Though James Shields has only two victories in his last 14 starts, the Royals have won eight of the last nine games he's started. With its ace on the hill, Kansas City goes for the three-game sweep against the Tigers on Sunday following Saturday's 6-5 win at Kauffman Stadium.
Shields has faced Detroit twice this season -- a no-decision in both outings. He's allowed a combined five runs in 15 innings while striking out 10 and walking five.
"Every time you face them it's a battle," Shields said. "You've got to come out and bring your A-game. They're going to make you work."
Tigers starter Doug Fister can also understand the tough luck Shields has had this season, since he has only two wins dating to May 14, despite seven quality starts.
While a lack of run support cost Fister a chance for a few more wins in the first half, he's typically dominated in the second half. Fister went 8-4 with a 2.67 ERA after the All-Star break last year, and 8-3 with a 2.47 ERA after the break in 2011.
"I think he's a very good pitcher, and I think from what we've seen, there's reason to believe that he'll be very good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I mean, he hasn't been in the big leagues that long, so when you talk about track record, what are you talking about? But I think from what we've seen that he'll have a very good second half."
Royals: Shoulder stiffness bothering Paulino
It's been a long road back to the Major Leagues for Felipe Paulino, who underwent Tommy John surgery last year. While his elbow has recovered well, he's now struggling with stiffness in his right shoulder.
"I've been throwing a lot in the Minor Leagues, it's not only [Double-A Northwest] Arkansas, but I threw in Arizona before my first official rehab start in Arkansas," Paulino said. "I've thrown 32 or 35 innings so that is a lot after one year. I think that's why my shoulder is tight, because of the work."
Paulino is set to pitch two innings in a simulated game on Monday after throwing 65 pitches in a simulated game on June 25. Though he was originally slated to return to the Royals this month, Paulino says he's listening to his body's cues and doesn't have a timetable set up after this upcoming week.
• Opposing baserunners have tested Salvador Perez's arm throughout the season, and they've failed many times.
Perez has thrown out 14 runners in 41 attempts, tied for the third-most in the American League. The Tigers' Andy Dirks was the latest casualty on Friday.
"If Sal's given the opportunity, nine times out of 10 he's going to throw you out. But you have to have the opportunity," manager Ned Yost said.
Perez caught 18 runners in 43 attempts last season, leading the AL with a 41.9 percent rate among catchers who were in at least 70 games.
Tigers: Benoit happy as closer
Despite some reports to the contrary, Joaquin Benoit never told the Tigers that he didn't want to become the club's closer.
"That's the goal of everybody, to be in the position where everybody's going to recognize you," Benoit said. "If you ask anybody in the bullpen if they want to be the closer for the team, most of the answers are going to be yes, that they want to be."
Although Leyland hasn't named a closer, Benoit says that he's happy with his current role and that he wasn't going to demand to be the team's closer in Spring Training, when the Tigers were testing out Bruce Rondon for the role.
• While many people are looking for the Tigers to upgrade their bullpen through a trade, Jeremy Bonderman could be an option at Triple-A Toledo.
Despite early indications that he would take a vacant spot in the Mud Hens rotation, Bonderman pitched a perfect eighth inning in relief on Friday.
• Sunday's starting pitchers have struggled in the first inning this year. Fister has allowed 14 earned runs for a 6.63 ERA in the opening frame while Shields has given up 17 earned runs for a 7.65 ERA.
• The Royals are 6-1 in their last seven one-run games following two one-run victories against the Tigers this weekend.
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.