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Tigers looks to continue mastery of last-place Royals

Sep 29, 2006 - 1:20 PM Kansas City (59-100) at Detroit (95-64) 7:05 pm EDT

DETROIT (Ticker) - For the second consecutive weekend, the Detroit Tigers attempt to end a 19-year drought in a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals.

With company atop the American League Central Division for the first time since May 20, the Tigers shoot for a 15th win in 16 meetings with the Royals on Friday.

In completing a three-game sweep of Kansas City with a 15-4 triumph on Sunday, Detroit clinched its first playoff berth since 1987. With another series sweep of the Royals this weekend, the Tigers also would capture their first division title in 19 years.

After holding sole possession of first place for 131 days, Detroit endured an 8-6 loss to Toronto here Thursday and was joined by Minnesota, which rallied for a 2-1 victory against Kansas City. If the Tigers and Twins finish the season with matching records, Detroit would claim the division by virtue of winning the season series between the teams.

For the second consecutive series opener against the Royals, the Tigers give the ball to Wilfredo Ledezma (3-3, 3.58 ERA). The lefthander gave up three runs - one earned - and four hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 7-3 win last Friday at Kansas City, recording his first victory since August 6.

Despite his effort on September 22, Ledezma has gone 1-2 with a 5.95 ERA in September. He was 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA in nine appearances - two starts - in August.

Kansas City counters with Runelvys Hernandez (6-10, 6.38), who gave up eight runs - one earned - and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings of Sunday's loss to Detroit. Hernandez has lost both decisions vs. the Tigers this year after entering the campaign with a mark of 4-1 with a 2.87 ERA in five starts against them.

Hernandez has posted a 2.08 ERA in winning his last three road starts after going 0-4 with a 10.62 ERA in his first five outings away from Kauffman Stadium in 2006.

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