Nine days ago, the Royals started the second half with their hardest road trip of the season, a three-city tour through elite clubs -- Cleveland, Detroit and Boston -- that could possibly change the Royals' season.
It has changed KC's year -- in a good way. And a win Sunday afternoon in the series finale would yield more confidence for the young Royals.
After Saturday's extra-innings loss, KC stood at 4-4 on the road trip. A victory Sunday would propel it to a 5-4 record and two straight series wins against Detroit and Boston -- arguably the best two teams in the game.
Brian Bannister will make the start for KC. He was effective in his last start, but took the loss after permitting four runs in six innings against the Red Sox. Bannister has been one of best rookies in baseball this season -- only once has he permitted more than four earned runs in a game.
This will be Bannister's second career start against the Tigers. He allowed four runs (two earned) in 4 2/3 innings against Detroit on May 4.
KC: RHP Brian Bannister (5-6, 3.87 ERA)
Bannister has lasted at least six innings in 10 of his 14 starts and his consistency has been a boon to the rotation. In his last start, the Red Sox used three home runs to beat him. That was unusual, because Bannister had allowed just four homers in his previous 80 innings. Bannister felt he could count the bad pitches he threw in that game on one hand -- tossing a lot of first-pitch strikes, yielding no walks and allowing fewer hits (five) than innings pitched (six).
DET: LHP Nate Robertson (6-6, 4.53 ERA)
Robertson's seven scoreless innings on Tuesday at Minnesota represented his strongest outing in four starts since coming off the disabled list last month from his bout with a tired arm. He kept ahead in counts, scattered three singles overall and racked up five strikeouts among Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. Now, the Wichita native will face the team he grew up following, the Royals, for the first time since 2005.
Player to watch:
Butler has hit everything in recent weeks and drove home five runs in the first two games of the series. Even his outs are hard-hit balls.