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Verlander fans eight over six strong innings

The last time Justin Verlander faced the Royals, they were mired in a long losing streak that ended up lasting 12 games. And although the Royals are now off the skid, there are still some struggling Kansas City hitters who can't be too happy to see Verlander again.

The struggles are coming in the middle of the Royals' lineup. First baseman Eric Hosmer and right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who bat fourth and fifth, respectively, are hitting a combined .216 this season.

Still, manager Ned Yost is confident the pair will break out soon.

"I feel like they're really close and there's nothing you can do," Yost said. "I'm not moving [Hosmer]. He's going to be fine, he's going to work his way through it. He's still on a pace to hit 30 homers and 95 RBIs."

As for Francoeur, who has yet to homer this season and has driven in just three runs, Yost said it's a matter of patience.

"At times he tries to get it done too quick," Yost said. "And he's just a tad bit impatient now, swinging at a bunch of first pitches, putting him behind in the count or making outs. If he sees a few more pitches, it's going to tighten up his discipline at the plate and he's going to start raking."

There aren't too many pitchers harder to break out against, though, than Verlander, who pitched a complete game against the Royals on April 16 at Kauffman Stadium. The defending American League Cy Young Award winner and MVP allowed just two runs to the Royals, striking out a season-high nine batters and throwing a season-high 131 pitches.

The Tigers right-hander has dominated the Royals throughout his career, going 14-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 20 starts. But his catcher, Alex Avila, isn't taking Kansas City for granted.

"[Verlander's] pitched against these guys so many times where you know what to do to get them out," Avila said. "But at the same time -- in the back of your mind -- we faced them a lot of times so they're trying to make the adjustment, [too]. So we have to be ready so if they do make the adjustment, we have to adjust to that as quickly as possible."

Royals starter Jonathan Sanchez will take the ball opposite Verlander on Wednesday, and Sanchez has not had an easy go of it so far in 2012. The Kansas City left-hander has yet to go more than five innings, and two of his starts have ended before the fifth inning, including his last outing. Sanchez walked seven and allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Indians last week.

Royals: Butler rakes at Comerica Park
• Royals designated hitter Billy Butler has had great success at Comerica Park, hitting .337 there in his career. He's hit six home runs and driven in 30 runs in Detroit, the most in any road ballpark in both categories.

• Pitcher Felipe Paulino will throw a side session Wednesday, and if all goes well, he will make his first start of the season Saturday against the Yankees, according to Yost.

Tigers: Cabrera feasting on Royals
• In 76 career games against Kansas City, Miguel Cabrera has racked up 16 home runs and 31 RBIs. During Detroit's mid-April sweep of the Royals, Cabrera went 4-for-12 with two runs scored and one RBI. He went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored in Tuesday's win.

• Injured pitcher Doug Fister is scheduled to make a rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Toledo against Pawtucket. Fister is on the 15-day disabled list with a left side strain.

Worth noting
One Royals hitter who has good history against Verlander is Butler. He is hitting .372 off the Tigers' ace, and only two players -- Joe Mauer and A.J. Pierzynski -- have tallied more hits off Verlander than Butler in their careers. Comments