(Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
The Kansas City Royals, who continued their recent run of impressive play by blindsiding the Houston Astros over the weekend, carry the hot streak into a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers, which begins Tuesday.
The Royals have won six straight and 10 of their last 11, including a three-game road sweep of the Astros.
All but two of the wins during that stretch were decided by two runs or fewer, including a 6-5 triumph on Sunday.
"I think there's an opportunity for growth there," Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. "We've had a lot of close games this year that haven't gone our way. And early on, we were using that as kind of a, 'They're learning. They're learning to be in close games.' And maybe this is the byproduct of that."'
Kansas City has collected four straight series wins, something it hadn't done since 2019.
"It's just giving us confidence for the future knowing that we can go into someone else's park and we stack up right with them," said Royals rookie Alec Marsh, the winning pitcher on Sunday. "As young as we are, the guys are learning, the guys are gaining experience. To be able to come in here into their park and get a sweep is amazing."
Nelson Velazquez had a two-homer game on Sunday and Salvador Perez and Matt Duffy also went deep. The Royals (54-102) built a 6-2 lead in the first three innings, then hung on against Houston's potent lineup.
"The lead was the difference in the game," Quatraro said. "We didn't do anything after that."
Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke (1-15, 5.37 ERA) will start the series opener against the Tigers. He has pitched fewer than five innings in his last seven outings. In his last appearance Wednesday, he gave up two runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Guardians.
Greinke is no stranger to the Tigers. He's faced them 34 times, including two of his 31 starts this season. He has a 13-9 record and 2.84 ERA in those outings.
He'll be opposed by rookie right-hander Reese Olson (5-7, 4.13), who is finishing the season on a hot streak by winning three of his last four outings, all in September. During that stretch, Olson has a 1.40 ERA in 25 2/3 innings while allowing just 10 hits.
He held the Los Angeles Dodgers to one run and two hits in six innings on Wednesday.
"His mix was incredible (Wednesday) against a good hitting lineup. He was relentless in the strike zone," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "He's demonstrating that he belongs, and he can do different things to different opponents. When his pitch mix is right, he's as good as anyone that we have. When you come into Dodger Stadium and pitch as well as he did, he is going to come out with his (head) held high."
Olson has faced Kansas City once, a June outing in which he allowed three earned runs in six innings.
Detroit (73-83) is back home for the remainder of the season after winning six of 10 games during a West Coast swing.
The Tigers collected a 2-0 win at Oakland on Sunday with Spencer Torkelson driving in both runs. Torkelson has 29 homers and 88 RBIs in his second major league season.
--Field Level Media