Winless Royals and Tigers face each other in search of first win

DETROIT — It wasn’t that long ago — three seasons — that Kansas City was in the process of dethroning Detroit as the boss team in the American League Central Division.

But when the teams meet Monday afternoon, both will be looking for their first victory of this short season.

The Royals, weathered out Sunday in a game they will make up with the Chicago White Sox on April 28, are winless in both of their games this season.

Kansas City had some key free agent losses and is not expected to challenge the division leaders this season.

The Tigers, swept by visiting Pittsburgh in a series that featured two rainouts, are in a reboot mode, trading salaries for prospects after nearly a decade of being a force in the AL Central.

One of the teams should walk away with its first win of the season Monday afternoon. There’s a good chance for Tuesday’s game to get rained out.

Royals manager Ned Yost pushed Sunday’s scheduled starter, right-hander Jason Hammel (8-13, 5.29 ERA last season), back to Monday. It will be his first start of the season.

Hammel started five times against Detroit last season but was only 1-0 with a 4.13 ERA. Over his career, Hammel is only 3-2 with a 6.09 ERA over 14 games, 11 of them starts.

Detroit will get its first start from veteran lefty Francisco Liriano (6-7, 5.66 in 2017).

Liriano pitched for Toronto and Houston last year and was signed by Detroit as a free agent this winter.

He was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in one start against Kansas City a year ago and is 7-5 with a 4.36 ERA against the Royals over his career, which includes 19 appearances and 16 starts.

Liriano still features a decent fastball but his slider/changeup combo are his most effective since he’s had trouble controlling his fastball over the last couple of seasons.

Detroit played a split doubleheader Sunday against Pittsburgh. It lost the first, 1-0, getting just two hits, and dropped an 8-6 verdict in the second game.

“It was a long day,” said Ron Gardenhire, winless as Detroit’s new manager. “We had a chance. We’ve just got to keep playing.”

The Tigers will check on the condition of two players Monday morning. Shortstop Jose Iglesias and left fielder Victor Reyes collided in the outfield.

“We’ll check on Iglesias in the morning,” Gardenhire said. “His calf was pretty sore. He might have got his ankle (hurt) a little bit, but he wanted to finish the game.

“Reyes took a pretty good (double-digit stitches) slash across the (left) arm. We’re going to wait and see exactly what we need to do there, if we need to do anything.

“If it’s one of those, ‘It’s a few days’ things, it’s OK, but if it’s going to be longer than that we’re going to have to figure something out.”

Gardenhire joked Detroit is 1-2, still rankled about the overturning of what would have been a game-winning single in the 10th inning Friday afternoon.

“We’ve got good players,” he said. “And we can do some things. We’re trying to figure out about our bullpen and getting guys in the right spots.”

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