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Thursday Matinee Tips
The Thursday baseball card showcases three getaway games during the afternoon with two former Cy Young Award winners taking the mound. The lone American League matinee takes place at Comerica Park in Detroit as the Royals look to keep up their winning ways as an underdog.

Royals at Tigers - 1:05 PM EST

Kansas City was expected to make progress inside the AL Central this season and the Royals are following suit with a first place start through the first three weeks. Ned Yost's club wraps up a quick two-game set in the Motor City after Wednesday's 7-5 loss, as both teams send their aces to the mound in the series finale.

Justin Verlander (2-2, 2.13 ERA) has alternated wins and losses in each of his four starts, coming off a defeat at Seattle in his last outing. The former MVP struck out a season-high 12 in his previous trip to the rubber, as the Tigers provided Verlander with no offense in a 2-0 loss to the Mariners as a $1.65 road favorite. Verlander lost his only home start, a 7-0 shutout to the Yankees as nearly a $2.00 favorite on April 7, snapping an 11-game winning streak at Comerica Park dating back to 2012.

The Royals send out James Shields (1-2, 3.00 ERA), who has been involved in four contests decided by one run so far. Shields received a no-decision in his previous outing, a 4-3 defeat at Boston last Saturday, but the righty allowed just one earned run in six innings. Kansas City won his only non-quality start, a 9-8 victory at Philadelphia as a $1.20 underdog on February 7. Shields dominated the Tigers as a road 'dog last April as a member of the Rays, scattering six hits and two earned runs in eight innings of a 4-2 triumph.

Pirates at Phillies - 1:05 PM EST

Pittsburgh stumbled out of the gate by losing five of its first six games. The Bucs have rebounded nicely with a 11-4 hot stretch over the last 15 contests, as Pittsburgh wraps up its series with its cross-state rivals at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies aren't an automatic victory anymore with its trio of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee, as Philadelphia owns a dreadful 4-10 record when those pitchers start.

Lee (2-1, 2.83 ERA) dominated in his first two starts, beating the Braves and Mets by tossing at least eight innings each time. However, the southpaw has lost each of his last two outings to the Reds and Cardinals, while allowing all five runs in a 5-0 home defeat to St. Louis last Saturday. Dating back to last August, the Phillies have drilled the 'under' in 11 of Lee's last 12 starts, including five of six at Citizens Bank Park.

The Pirates counter with James McDonald (2-2, 4.12 ERA), who is seeking the consistency that made him 10-2 to start last season. McDonald has traded off quality starts with non-quality outings in his first four trips to the mound in 2013, coming off a solid outing against the Braves. The right-hander shut down the powerful Atlanta lineup as a short home 'dog by allowing two hits and one earned run in six innings of a 3-1 victory.

Dodgers at Mets - 1:10 PM EST

Two teams trying to find their way in the National League race wrap up their series at Citi Field, as Los Angeles heads back to the West Coast following Thursday's getaway game. The Dodgers plated just 13 runs during a recent six-game losing streak, but scored a combined 14 runs in consecutive victories over the Orioles and Mets. New York has cooled off after a 7-4 start by losing five of its last eight games, but knocked off the Dodgers last night thanks to a walk-off grand slam.

Jeremy Hefner (0-2, 7.07 ERA) looks to lower his high ERA as the New York right-hander has failed to escape the fourth inning in each of his last two outings. Hefner received a no-decision in his previous outing against Washington, allowing three earned runs in four innings of work, but the Nats edged the Mets, 7-6. The Mets are a perfect 3-0 to the 'over' in his three starts, as the opposition has scored exactly seven runs in each of his three outings.

Southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-1, 4.01 ERA) is delivering plenty of innings through his first four starts, going at least six innings each time. The Dodgers have split each of his two outings in the favorite role, but this is the first time Ryu has been listed as road 'chalk.' Ryu has drilled the 'over' in each of his previous three trips to the mound, as the Los Angeles offense has scored at least five runs in those three contests.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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