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Tigers turn to vet in effort to cool off Royals

The Kansas City Royals found their power strokes after arriving in Detroit. They'll look to keep the balls flying into the empty Comerica Park stands when the American League Central Division teams play the second game of a four-game series on Tuesday.

After scoring a total of five runs in a three-game series against Cleveland, the Royals blasted six homers in a 14-6 thumping of the Tigers on Monday.

Third baseman Maikel Franco, who spent the first six seasons of his career in Philadelphia, hit his first two homers as a Royal. Second baseman Whit Merrifield came up a triple shy of the cycle.

"Whit had a great day, staring that cycle right square in the face, just putting together some nice swings," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's just good to see the explosive offense all the way through."

The Royals outscored the Tigers 13-1 after Detroit scored five runs in the second inning.

"You give up a five-spot and it's real easy to roll over," Matheny said. "These guys, you could tell, they were into it the whole time and didn't get discouraged at all."

Matheny did not reveal who would start Tuesday's game but it's likely he'll go to his bullpen early.

Dario Agrazal will start for the Tigers. Agrazal, 25, made his major league debut with Pittsburgh last season. He appeared in 15 games, including 14 starts, and posted a 4-5 record and 4.91 ERA.

Agrazal, who allowed 15 homers in 73 1/3 innings, was traded to Detroit after Pittsburgh designated him for assignment in late November.

In his final exhibition game, he gave up three runs on two hits in three innings at Cincinnati on July 21. He'll be making his first appearance against Kansas City.

Agrazal could simply be holding the fort until Daniel Norris, who has recovered from COVID-19, is ready to reclaim his starting role. The Tigers could also give Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick in the June 2018 draft, a chance to show his skills as the season progresses.

"We like Aggie," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said to MLive and other media members. "He's got major league service time as a starter. We like what he can do.

"He can spin the ball. He reads hitters really well," Gardenhire continued. "He can pitch backwards. We'll have him in the rotation and then we'll go from there, depending on how everything else shakes out."

Gardenhire dipped deep into his bullpen on Monday as Kyle Funkhouser, Beau Burrows and Anthony Castro made their major league debuts. They gave up a combined 10 runs, including four homers, in 4 1/3 innings.

"That's kind of where we are, coming off this COVID stuff and selecting our roster," Gardenhire said. "We've got 16 pitchers already and tonight we probably could have used a few more. If there was any fun at all tonight, it was watching these young men go out and compete and get their first action in a major league baseball game."

It would have been more fun if they had more success.

"It's a learning process," Gardenhire said. "If you think you can just throw fastballs by people in the middle of the plate, you're not going to do it up here. They've got a bunch of really good hitters and they made (our young pitchers) pay when they missed."

--Field Level Media