Preview: Tigers at Royals

Miguel Cabrera has had two days to rest his sore body and it is uncertain if the 2012 Triple Crown winner will be in the lineup when the Detroit Tigers visit the Kansas City Royals for Friday’s opener of a three-game set. Cabrera sat out Wednesday with abdominal and groin injuries and manager Jim Leyland is hoping Thursday's day off will help his slugger. Cabrera has missed four of Detroit’s last five games.

Kansas City is one of the teams trying to chase down the Tampa Bay Rays for the American League’s second wild-card spot and can’t afford too many setbacks. The Royals won for the ninth time in 12 games on Thursday when third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a walkoff homer in the 13th inning for a 7-6 win over the Seattle Mariners. AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez, who will pitch the opener for the AL Central-leading Tigers, has allowed three total runs in four career starts against Kansas City.

TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit), FSN (Kansas City)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (12-7, 2.68 ERA) vs. Royals RH James Shields (10-8, 3.03)

Sanchez has split two decisions against the Royals this season and is 2-2 with a 0.92 career ERA against them. He has won five consecutive decisions, including a victory over Cleveland in his last turn when he gave up three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. Sanchez’s last defeat was against Kansas City on July 19, when he allowed one run and four hits in six innings.

Shields tossed seven innings of three-hit shutout ball against Toronto in his last outing for his fourth straight victory. He has 24 strikeouts over his last three outings and has pitched seven or more innings in each of his last five starts. Shields is 6-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 career starts against Detroit - and is 1-1 with a 2.48 ERA in four outings this season.


1. Royals 1B Billy Butler went 5-for-5 on Thursday for his second five-hit game of the season and third of his career.

2. Cabrera is batting .421 with two homers and six doubles in 38 career at-bats against Shields.

3. Kansas City leads the majors with 131 steals and recorded nine thefts in last month’s five-game series in Detroit.

PREDICTION: Tigers 4, Royals 3