Royals-Tigers Preview

The Kansas City Royals watched the Detroit Tigers celebrate twice Saturday night while their own party was pushed off yet again.

Back-to-back, extra-inning losses to the last-place Tigers have the Royals looking to avoid a road sweep and losing sole possession of the AL's best record for the first time since the All-Star break Sunday.

Kansas City (86-62) still owns an 11-game lead in the AL Central despite losing 11 of 15, but that slump has delayed the team from clinching a playoff spot and has it close to losing the league's top record. The Royals have held that position by themselves every day since July 5 but will drop into a tie if they lose Sunday and Toronto wins.

The latest setback came on Ian Kinsler's walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Saturday's 6-5 loss.

Kinsler was mobbed at home plate twice, first in the ninth inning after sliding in on what looked like a game-winning sacrifice fly. The call on the field was overturned after a replay review showed Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez tagged him on the foot.

A review wasn't necessary when Kinsler crossed home plate two innings later.

"The nice thing about hitting one out is that the game is guaranteed to be over," Kinsler said. "There was no reviewing that one."

The top three hitters for the Royals, owners of the AL's worst record since Sept. 4, all enter Sunday in slumps - Alex Gordon (0 for 11), Ben Zobrist (2 for 19) and Lorenzo Cain (0 for 11).

"I'm not worried, because I'd rather have it happen now than two weeks from now," manager Ned Yost said.

Kris Medlen owns one of Kansas City's two wins in the last week. After missing all of 2014 and the first half of this season following his second Tommy John surgery, he has earned a spot in the rotation down the stretch.

Medlen (4-1, 3.92 ERA) is 3-1 with a 4.60 ERA in five starts over the last four weeks, but take out the seven runs he surrendered to the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 4, and he's only allowed eight in his other four outings.

The right-hander recorded his first scoreless start since September 2013 on Tuesday, holding Cleveland to five hits in 6 1-3 innings, but admitted afterward he didn't have his best stuff as he failed to record a strikeout for the first time in 66 career starts.

Medlen is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Tigers, coming in 2010 and 2013 with Atlanta.

The Tigers (69-78) have won four straight and are looking for their first sweep of the Royals since May 2-4, 2014. Detroit right-hander Alfredo Simon will try to piece together two consecutive quality starts for the first time since he had three straight in mid-May.

Simon (13-9, 4.91) has been up-and-down since throwing a one-hitter Aug. 20 against Texas. He gave up 14 runs in 9 1-3 innings to lose his next two starts, then threw seven scoreless innings in a win, coughed up five runs in 6 2-3 while not factoring into the decision of a loss and allowed three runs in 6 1-3 to pick up a victory.

The right-hander's only appearance against the Royals in the past four years was an ugly one April 30, surrendering nine hits and six runs in 4 1-3 innings of an 8-1 loss.

Kansas City's middle infield combo of Omar Infante (oblique strain) and Alcides Escobar (elbow contusion) sat out Saturday after suffering injuries Friday. Escobar could return Sunday, while Infante is set to undergo tests Monday and could miss the rest of the regular season.

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