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Despite Still Trailing In AL Central, Tigers Feel Good About Series With Royals

By Ashley Dunkak

COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) - With a loss Wednesday to the Kansas City Royals, the Detroit Tigers whiffed on an opportunity to retake the lead in American League Central Division. The Tigers had taken the first two games of the series, but the Royals shut Detroit out in the finale.

Despite the three-game set ending on a sour note for Detroit, manager Brad Ausmus stayed positive.

"We're closer than we were when the series started," Ausmus said. "Let's be realistic - it's tough to get a sweep in major league baseball, and they're a pretty good team, and James Shields is a pretty good pitcher. Are we disappointed? You're disappointed every time you lose. We didn't give this game away; they beat us. They pitched better and they hit better, and that happens."

Shields dominated, as he often does, holding the Tigers scoreless through seven innings. Kansas City's defense looked stellar - it had been uncharacteristically shaky in the previous two games - and the offense did enough.

Ausmus did not express any worry, however, about Detroit's second-place status.

"The big picture is we won two out of three, we gained a game since they arrived," Ausmus continued. "We've still got plenty of time."

Players took a similar approach. While obviously upset at the loss, they kept the long haul in mind.

"We gained one game on them," Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello said. "We didn't kill ourselves. We improved. We get to see them again in about a week, so we've got to continue to take care of business against Cleveland and Minnesota and hopefully go into Kansas City with another series like we had in this one."

After Tuesday's game, starting pitcher Max Scherzer had scoffed at the notion that the Tigers felt pressure when the Royals came into Detroit with a two-game lead in the central division.

Shortstop Andrew Romine seconded Scherzer's sentiment.

"Honestly, in my opinion, I don't think that the pressure was ever really on us," Romine said. "Not to downplay how good the Royals are, because they're a very good team, but from the beginning they weren't looked at to be leading this division, so I think that the pressure's been on them even when they took first place from us. To be honest with you, we're just battling trying to get back in it. We're not really thinking that we have to do this or we need to be in first place.

"There's a lot of games left," he added, "and we've got a series against them at their place, so it should be interesting."

The Royals and the Tigers meet again in Kansas City in a three-game set that begins Sept. 19.

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