DETROIT -

If the Kansas City Royals are going to threaten the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central, they'll need to make some noise in a five-game series that begins Thursday in Detroit.

The Royals are 17-5 since July 22, but have made up only a half-game on the streaking Tigers and are 7 1/2 behind. Kansas City was dealt a damaging blow Wednesday afternoon when it dropped the rubber game of a three-game set to Miami.

The Royals produced a total of two runs and nine hits in the final two games of the Marlins series, the first one they have lost since before the All-Star break. Detroit eked out a 6-4 victory in Chicago against the White Sox on Wednesday to snap a three-game slide and finish its road trip 6-4. Kansas City has taken five of the first eight meetings this season.

TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, FSN Kansas City, FSN Detroit

PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH Jeremy Guthrie (12-8, 4.10 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (10-7, 2.58)

Guthrie followed up a shutout against Minnesota with a bumpy performance versus Boston on Saturday, when he was touched up for five runs and 10 hits in six innings. He has lasted at least six innings in nine straight starts and recorded 28 strikeouts against only seven walks over his last five outings. Since joining the Royals midway through the 2012 season, Guthrie is 4-0 with a 3.86 ERA against Detroit, but gave up five runs on 10 hits in six innings versus the Tigers on July 20.

Sanchez has been exceptional since the All-Star break, posting a 3-1 record and a 1.60 ERA in five starts. His lone loss in that stretch came in Kansas City on July 19, when the 29-year-old yielded one run in six innings but struggled with his control, walking a season-high five batters. Sanchez is 6-2 with a 2.08 ERA at home and has given up only two runs in 22 innings in his career against the Royals.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera (three home runs) and 1B Prince Fielder (two doubles) are a combined 18-for-47 against Guthrie.

2. Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas has missed two straight games with a left calf injury. Manager Ned Yost said Moustakas may play later in the series.

3. Detroit closer RHP Joaquin Benoit is 1-0 with a 1.01 ERA and 13 saves in his last 27 outings.