DET@KC: Miggy drives RBI single to pull Tigers closer

CHICAGO -- The Tigers had to breathe a sigh of relief when they were able to put All-Star Miguel Cabrera back in the lineup last weekend. His presence, as manager Jim Leyland pointed out last week, changes the entire strategy of an opposing team against the Detroit lineup.

Getting Cabrera back in the lineup was the first part. Now, they have to get him hitting again.

It's far from a slump, more like a skid in the larger context of his season, but Cabrera is 2-for-18 in September since returning from the groin injury that sidelined him over Labor Day weekend. His two singles in Kansas City over last weekend drove in three runs, and he was walked twice in each of those two games.

The Tigers put up nine runs on the White Sox without much output from Cabrera on Tuesday night; he reached base on one of Conor Gillaspie's three errors and came around to score one of Detroit's two first-inning tallies. Cabrera hit two drives to right field that former teammate Avisail Garcia corralled -- one at the fence, the other in the corner.

The reigning American League MVP is not 100 percent, and he probably won't get to that point this season. The next field Cabrera hits on at full strength might be Kaline Field in Lakeland, Fla. when Spring Training begins in February. Other than the recent stats, though, there aren't any obvious signs to suggest he's worse off than he was in August, when he hobbled through a performance that won him AL Player of the Month honors.

Cabrera is hitting the ball with authority, and he has just three strikeouts in his 18 September at-bats.

"At one time, he missed like five out of seven games or something," Leyland said, "so sometimes you can get a little out of sync with that. But I think he's about an eyelash from getting back to where he was."

Cabrera won a Triple Crown last year in a season that included an 0-for-22 slump in April and an 0-for-17 skid over the summer, so this tough stretch is hardly a death knell on his season. That said, his recent struggles have cost him momentum in trying to catch Baltimore's Chris Davis for the AL home run lead, and has cut into his lead in the batting race.

What was once a 30-point gulf in batting average between Cabrera and Mike Trout was down to just 12 points entering play on Wednesday, putting at least a twinge of intrigue into what looked like a victory lap for Cabrera toward a third consecutive batting title.

Cabrera held a seven-RBI advantage over Davis for the Major League lead.

Porcello is coming of age with victories total

DET@CWS: Porcello stymies Sox for a complete-game win

CHICAGO -- Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello's win on Tuesday night didn't just make history with his first complete game. It put him into exclusive company for number of wins in his age range.

The victory was the 60th of Porcello's career. Just three other active pitchers posted that many before their 25th birthday. Seattle's Felix Hernandez won 72 games by that age. Clayton Kershaw won 61 for the Dodgers by age 25. CC Sabathia won 60 in Cleveland before that point.

Porcello doesn't turn 25 until December, giving him the rest of the season to add to that total. If the rotation stays as is, he'll get three more starts before the regular season ends.

Porcello would have home starts against the Mariners on Sept. 16 and the White Sox on Sept. 21 before opening the final series of the season at Miami on Sept. 27.

Tigers to face one less lefty against Royals

CLE@DET: Verlander four-hits Tribe over seven innings

CHICAGO -- The Royals took two out of three from the Tigers last weekend in Kansas City behind two left-handed starters. As it turns out, the Tigers will only have to face one of them in the rematch series this weekend at Comerica Park.

Originally, both Danny Duffy and Bruce Chen were scheduled to pitch in the series, starting the first two games. With an off-day on Thursday, however, the Royals will move up their other starters and skip Duffy, who allowed two runs over 4 2/3 innings against the Tigers last Saturday despite five walks.

"We've got 17 games left," Royals manager Ned Yost said on Wednesday, "and you want your most veteran, your most productive pitchers on the mound as often as you can."

The Tigers will still have to face Chen, who delivered seven innings of two-run ball on Sunday. He'll pitch Friday's series opener against Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander. After that, the Royals will send out veteran right-handers Ervin Santana against Doug Fister on Saturday and Jeremy Guthrie to face Max Scherzer in Sunday's finale.