As the Royals entered this crucial four-game series with the first-place Tigers, they found out that outfielder Alex Gordon's sprained right wrist would force him to sit out the All-Star Game and almost certainly miss this entire series, and they also placed one of their best starters, Jason Vargas, on the disabled list after he'd undergone an appendectomy.
Then they were shellacked by the Tigers, 16-4, in Thursday's opener, and fell to 5 1/2 games out of first place.
The Royals will send left-hander Danny Duffy to the mound on Friday to try to regain some momentum before the All-Star break. Three weeks ago, against the Tigers in Detroit, Duffy tossed seven innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs while striking out five.
But he surrendered four runs during Sunday's loss to Cleveland, matching his total from his previous four starts.
Anibal Sanchez will pitch for the Tigers, trying to bounce back from his worst outing of the season his last time out, when he held the Rays scoreless for the first four innings before allowing a season-high seven runs. It was the most runs he allowed since Aug. 8, 2012.
"I had a really good game plan, and I got a really good four innings," Sanchez said after the game. "I think the homer and the walk, I think everything changed right there, and my ball started being up in the strike zone."
Sanchez allowed one run in seven innings in a 2-1 Tigers victory against the Royals earlier this season but did not strike out a batter for the first time in 188 career starts.
Tigers: Porcello falls short in Final Vote
Rick Porcello's bid to make the All-Star Game via the Final Vote fell short; the last spot went to Chicago's Chris Sale.
Porcello earned the nomination on the strength of his 11-5 record and 3.53 ERA.
"This has been a fantastic experience. I've never been involved in something like this in my career, and obviously, I want to make that team and be there in the All-Star Game, but it doesn't take anything away from how I feel I threw the ball in the first half," said Porcello.
Royals: Hosmer heating up
First baseman Eric Hosmer, who plodded along at the plate for much of the season, has suddenly gotten hot.
Hosmer upped his hitting streak to 10 games on Thursday night and is 16-for-39 over that span.
"His timing and his swings are better," manager Ned Yost said. "He's been getting himself in better position to hit earlier. He's getting his foot down, his hands are in better striking position, which allows you to see the ball better."
On Wednesday night against the Rays, he belted his first home run since June 15, a span of 93 at-bats.
Before this streak, Hosmer's average was .246. Now he's up to .263.
• Royals outfielder Justin Maxwell, designated for assignment on June 30, has cleared waivers and accepted the Royals' offer to return to Triple-A Omaha. He has hit just .150 in 20 games for Kansas City.
• In his first two rehab games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Royals outfielder Nori Aoki (groin) has gone 0-for-7.
• Tigers right-handed reliever Joel Hanrahan, who's recovering from Tommy John surgery, threw off the mound on Tuesday and could throw a bullpen session on Saturday.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.