As it stands, with three games remaining in the season's first half, they're simply trying to claw their way back to .500, as they trail the first-place White Sox by 4 1/2 games.
Detroit can even its record with a win in Friday's series opener against the Royals, who had lost five of their last six before winning Thursday's series finale against Toronto, 9-6.
Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez (1-4, 6.80 ERA) gets the ball for Kansas City after a rough outing in his last time out. Sanchez allowed 10 hits and six walks against the Twins that resulted in six runs in just 4 1/3 innings.
Sanchez has made four starts since he missed a little more than a month with an injured biceps, and during that time he's 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA. Much of those poor numbers can be attributed to his high pitch counts and lack of efficiency.
"I've been throwing a lot of pitches. That's part of my game to throw a lot of pitches but I've been throwing a lot lately -- a little more than I used to," Sanchez said. "So hopefully I can go there and start pounding the strike zone."
Fellow southpaw Drew Smyly opposes Sanchez. The Tigers' rookie has already faced Kansas City once this season, tossing six strong innings and allowing just an unearned run on April 17.
He's coming off a start against Tampa Bay in which he held the Rays hitless for four innings, but was done in by a long fifth inning that forced him to be removed early. Nonetheless, Smyly picked up the victory to improve his record to 3-3 with a 4.54 ERA this season.
Offensively for Detroit, Miguel Cabrera has been on a tear since mid-May, hitting .360 with 11 homers and 48 RBIs over his last 53 games, dating back to May 10.
Royals: Broxton finishes fourth in Final Vote
Barring being an injury replacement, Jonathan Broxton won't get to play at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night when the 2012 Midsummer Classic comes to town. But it did not stop him from adding to his résumé against the Blue Jays on Thursday, converting a scoreless ninth for his 21st save in 24 opportunities.
The Royals' closer, who lowered his ERA to 1.99, finished fourth in the running for the 2012 American League MLB.com Final Vote for this year's All-Star Game.
Texas' Yu Darvish won the balloting, becoming the third Japanese winner of the Final Vote.
"I'm very appreciative for everything everybody's done for me, from my teammates to the coaching staff to all the fans out there who put the time in to vote," Broxton said. "We tried to pull it through, but it's kind of hard when you're going against a country. It was fun while it lasted and I just want to thank everybody for their support. Hopefully next year I can get it done without a vote."
Tigers: Avila likely to sit once vs. Royals
Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave catcher Alex Avila a day off on Thursday, and he'll likely give Avila another break at some point in this weekend's series against the Royals.
Avila is hitting .247 with five homers in 56 games this season.
"He's sore. He's beat up," Leyland said.
The Tigers have won four of the first five matchups between the two teams this season, and the Royals did not score more than three runs in any of those games.
Kansas City hasn't won a season series against Detroit since 2008.