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MIN@DET: Sanchez fans six over 6 1/3 innings

The Royals' winning streak has reached 10 games, and their lead in the AL Central is now 1 1/2 games.

On Thursday in Detroit, they will try to complete a four-game series sweep of the Tigers for the first time since 1984. Coincidentally, that was also the most recent year Detroit won the World Series.

"My goal wasn't to take three out of four when I left; my goal is to win every single game," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said.

Eric Hosmer isn't satisfied either.

"As soon as we get off that bus back at the hotel, we're thinking of 11 in a row," the first baseman said.

Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have already proved unable to slow down the red-hot Royals. If anybody can do it, it might be Anibal Sanchez, who will get the ball for Detroit.

Perhaps the lone constant for the Tigers over their current 9-18 stretch is the success of Sanchez.

"Everything's going right for them right now," Sanchez said. "But at the end of the day, you need to give credit. They're playing good. They do the little things."

Sanchez, the right-hander, is riding a seven-start unbeaten streak. Since the Tigers began their slow fall from the AL Central's top spot, he is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA. Opponents are batting just .168 against him over that span.

In the same time period, opposing hitters are succeeding at a .315 rate against the other four Detroit starters.

"I think everybody's different," Sanchez said when asked about the struggles of his fellow starters. "Every day is different. I don't have to carry whatever they do."

Sanchez will certainly hope to avoid the same fate that fell upon Verlander and Scherzer, who gave up 17 combined runs to Kansas City in the first two games of the series. On Wednesday, Drew Smyly allowed two runs.

"Really, for the most part, when we've struggled, our pitching has struggled -- whether it's the starters or the bullpen or a combination," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

"There's been times when the offense has struggled as well, but generally it's been the pitching that's scuffled a little bit. Somehow, we've got to get that back on track."

Given Sanchez's immunity to the recent slump, he may be the prime candidate to do just that.

For the matinee start, Sanchez will be opposed by Danny Duffy, who has faced Detroit more than he has faced any other team in his career. In seven starts against the Tigers, he is 1-4 with a 3.89 ERA.

But Duffy has found ways to get it done on the road. His 1.72 ERA away from Kauffman Stadium is second best in the American League among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched.

"These guys have won 10 in a row," the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera said. "They're playing at a high level right now. You have to give credit to these guys. They play awesome. They play aggressive. When you're doing good, you close your eyes and you swing and get hits."

Royals: Aoki to return to lineup Thursday
After exiting Tuesday night's game with a leg cramp and receiving a precautionary day off Wednesday, Royals outfielder Nori Aoki is expected to return to action Thursday.

Lorenzo Cain will most likely be in center field, while Aoki reclaims his place in right field. Cain was in right field Wednesday while Aoki rested. Jarrod Dyson started in center.

Tigers: Fresh 'pen arm arrives in form of rookie Smith
Two years after a return from Tommy John surgery, sinkerballer Chad Smith is going to get his chance in the Detroit bullpen.

On Wednesday, the Tigers purchased Smith's contract from Triple-A Toledo. In a corresponding roster move, they designated reliever Evan Reed for assignment.

"He's not a guy that was really on the radar in Spring Training," Ausmus said, "but has pitched his way onto the radar over the first three months of the season."

Worth noting
• Royals catcher Salvador Perez is riding a 12-game hitting streak.

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