DETROIT -

Rain has delayed the first pitch of the Detroit Tiger game against the Kansas City Roals. The game, originally slated to begin at 1:08 p.m. has been pushed back to 1:35 p.m.

A marquee pitching matchup is on tap when the Detroit Tigers conclude a rain-shortened two-game series against the visiting Kansas City Royals on Thursday afternoon. The Tigers will send ace right-hander Justin Verlander to the mound to oppose Royals right-hander James Shields. It will mark only the second start at Comerica Park this season for Verlander, who has dominated Kansas City throughout his career, logging a 15-2 record and 2.73 ERA in 23 starts.
Shields was the major offseason acquisition for the Royals after spending his first seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has pitched better than his record indicates and also has enjoyed great success against Detroit, posting a 5-1 record in nine career starts. Shields is well aware of what he's up against in Verlander. “I’ll go in there with the same mindset as I do for every single start,” Shields said. “I feel if I pitch my game, I’ll be fine."

PITCHING MATCHUP: Royals RH James Shields (1-2, 3.00 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Justin Verlander (2-2, 2.13)
Shields is coming off consecutive strong outings. He limited Boston to one run on four hits in six innings only to see the bullpen cough up the lead his last time out. He threw his 20th career complete game in his previous outing but suffered a 3-2 loss to Toronto despite surrendering only two hits. Shields has been tormented by reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who is 13-for-26 against him. Jhonny Peralta has also been a nemesis with 10 hits and three home runs in 22 at-bats.

Amid questions that his velocity is diminishing, Verlander registered a season-high 12 strikeouts but came out on the short end of a 2-0 decision at Seattle on April 18. He permitted only a run on three hits in a victory at Oakland in his previous outing. Verlander was 2-1 in four starts against Kansas City a year ago. He has had his issues with Billy Butler, who is 21-for-53 with two homers and nine RBIs against him, but has limited Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas to a combined 5-for-38.

WALK-OFFS

1. Tigers closer Jose Valverde made his season debut and worked a perfect ninth Wednesday to earn the save.

2. Royals SS Alcides Escobar is batting .450 (9-for-20) during a five-game hitting streak.

3. Detroit has won seven of the last eight meetings overall and eight straight at Comerica Park.

PREDICTION: Tigers 3, Royals 2 Stats and RecordsTeam Comparison

 W/LStrkHomeAwayEastCentralWestIL
Kansas City10-8L14-26-63-34-30-03-2
Detroit10-9W15-25-74-22-24-50-0

Last Meeting

Kansas CityDetroit
DateAwayHomeAvgHROPSAvgHROPS
4/24/13KC 5DET 7.2420.636.2810.821

Player Stats

Season Series

BattingPlayerAvgHitsOPS
Kansas CityE. Hosmer1.00012.750
DetroitO. Infante.75032.000

OffensePlayerHRRunsRBI
Kansas CityA. Gordon021
DetroitP. Fielder020

PitchingERAAvgK
Kansas City3.38.2424
Detroit5.00.2819

Season

BattingPlayerAvgHitsOPS
Kansas CityL. Cain.35021.904
DetroitM. Cabrera.36729.959

OffensePlayerHRRunsRBI
Kansas CityB. Butler3813
DetroitP. Fielder51221

PitchingERAAvgK
Kansas City3.31.263151
Detroit3.77.274188