Someone finally stepped up to answer the call. Unfortunately, the Kansas City Royals were facing possibly the greatest pitcher in all of baseball right now.
The knock against the Royals all season is their lack of starting pitching, and specifically the inability of their rotation to work deep into games. Jeff Francis threw six innings of four-hit ball today, and allowed only two earned runs. Typically, that's the kind of job that will get it done with the Royals line-up. However, against the Detroit Tigers' ace Justin Verlander, nothing seems to work. The Royals scattered seven hits throughout the final game of the four-game series and were never able to piece anything together.
Verlander showed again why he's a Cy Young frontrunner with seven-plus shutout innings, striking out nine on the day. Francis whiffed six batters to match a season high and many were caught looking -- a good sign that Francis had good movement throughout the day. Brennan Boesch and Magglio Ordonez each drove in a run, although one was enough for Verlander and the Tigers' staff. Jose Valverde closed things out for his 24th save.
Up next for the Royals after the All-Star Break is a three-game set against the Twins at Minnesota. For now, here's hoping a few days off gives some juice to a line-up that needs it and rest to a staff that's struggling.