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|10:15 AM PT11:15 AM MT12:15 PM CT1:15 PM ET13:15 ET17:15 GMT1:15 10:15 AM MST12:15 PM EST12:45 PM VEN21:15 UAE12:15 PM CT, September 5, 2019
Ewing M. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri Attendance: 14,736
Royals' Starling, learning on job, takes on Tigers
Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd should know better than to throw fat pitches to Royals outfielder Bubba Starling early in the count when he starts at Kansas City on Thursday.
Starling is hitting .389 (14-for-36) when he makes contact with the first pitch or a 1-0 pitch.
Conversely, he's 2-for-13 (.154) when putting the ball in play with an 0-1 count. And in 16 at-bats that ended with an 0-2 pitch, he doesn't have a hit, striking out 13 times.
"It's my first couple of months up in the majors, and I haven't seen most of these pitchers," said Starling, a 27-year-old rookie. "I'm trying to get used to it. Obviously, (hitting coaches) Terry (Bradshaw) and Pedro (Grifol) say, 'Don't give away strikes.'
"I'm trying to be more aggressive lately. When you get behind in counts, they know what you're good at and what you're not good at, which for me is the slider away right now. Even early in counts, if you lay off the breaking ball away, you're going to get better pitches to hit."
Starling has only been in the majors since the All Star break. Overall, he's hitting .205 (30-for-146) in 41 games. He was a defensive replacement Wednesday in the Royals' 5-4 victory over the Tigers and didn't get a plate appearance.
He likely will start against Boyd.
"From Triple-A to here, the spin is different," Starling said prior to Tuesday's game. "The late movement is harder to pick up. It's a work in progress. I faced (Baltimore' Dylan) Bundy the first time and he K'd me three times. The last time, I felt better against him. I think it's a matter of facing guys more and more and getting more confident.
"For me, it's laying off bad pitches and not missing the fastball early in the count. If you miss the fastball, they're going to go straight to breaking balls."
That responsibility will fall on Boyd (7-10, 4.58 ERA) in Thursday's game. Boyd, who is 4-9 with a 6.62 ERA in 18 career starts against the Royals, will be facing them for the fifth time this season. He is 1-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four starts vs. Kansas City in 2019.
Boyd said of his approach to attacking hitters, "You gain as much information as you can, but the at-bat is going to play itself out in front of you. You learn all those things about a guy, but at the same time you can't go to the well too many times.
"Even if he struggles with a slider, if you throw three or four sliders in a row, he's going to make an adjustment. If it's not my best pitch, I'm not going to go to it. I'm not going to go learn a splitter if I don't have one.
"It's a constant give-and-take, reading the swing, where you're at in the game and your history with him. I'll look at his weaknesses, but focus on my strengths."
Boyd is coming off a mediocre appearance in which he still earned a win. He gave up five runs on six hits and a walk in six innings, but he struck out 11 in the Tigers' 10-7 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The Royals will counter Thursday with Glenn Sparkman (3-10, 5.86). The right-hander dropped a 9-8 decision to the Oakland A's last Thursday, permitting seven runs on a career-high-tying nine hits over 4 1/3 innings.
Sparkman has never started against the Tigers, but appeared in relief against them twice last season, posting a 2.84 ERA.
He is 3-5 with a 3.74 ERA in 14 home outings (nine starts) this season, compared to 0-5 with an 8.94 ERA over 12 road appearances (nine starts).
--Field Level Media
Updated September 5, 2019
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