The Kansas City Royals’ four-game series with the Detroit Tigers will serve as Alex Gordon’s swan song.
The 36-year-old Gordon announced on Thursday he was retiring after the season. The 14-year veteran outfielder has spent his entire career with the organization.
Kansas City (24-33) won the series opener 8-7, though Gordon went 0-for-3 with a walk. The second game of the series will take place on Friday night.
“Anyone who has ever played this game knows it is hard. This is a game you love,” Gordon said. “But you come to that day when you know it’s over. I kind of thought about it last year. But one of the things that brought me back this year was: I love those guys in the clubhouse. I love competing with them and going out to dinner with them, even though we couldn’t do that dinner thing this year. And I thought we were on the cusp of winning.
“But as the season went on, I kind of knew.”
Gordon’s hard-charging style has rubbed off on his teammates.
“A lot of players say, ‘I gave the game everything I had,’ ” Whit Merrifield told MLB.com. “But nobody has been able to back that up like Alex Gordon. On the field and off, he’s been the rock for this organization for over 10 years.”
Tigers interim manager Lloyd McClendon noted that Gordon turned into one of the majors’ premier defenders.
“One heck of a player,” McClendon said. “He’s accomplished a lot here in Kansas City — seven Gold Gloves. He’s a young man who came to the big leagues under a lot of pressure. He was the quote-unquote next George Brett. That’s a lot of pressure. But he was able to move to the outfield and become an All-Star.”
A pair of young right-handers will be making their final starts of the season on Friday.
Kansas City’s Brad Keller (4-3, 2.77 ERA) will look to finish off a much-improved season in style. Last year, Keller wound up 7-14 with a 4.19 ERA in 28 starts.
In three September starts this season, he’s had two mediocre outings sandwiching arguably the best outing of his three-year career. He gave up four earned runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings against Cleveland, then tossed a complete-game shutout against Pittsburgh on Sept. 13.
In his last outing on Sunday, he allowed five runs on five hits, including two homers to Daniel Vogelbach, in five innings at Milwaukee. He hadn’t surrendered a long ball in any of his other seven starts this season.
Keller is 2-3 with a 3.31 ERA in nine career outings, including five starts, against Detroit.
Spencer Turnbull (4-3, 3.83), the Tigers’ most effective starter this season, will make his 11th appearance of the season. He bounced back from an outing against the Chicago White Sox in which he gave up five runs in five innings by holding Cleveland to two runs in six innings on Saturday.
Turnbull, a second-year player, didn’t issue a walk for the first time this season and struck out seven, his second-highest total this year. He has five career starts against the Royals, posting an 0-1 record and a 2.89 ERA.
Designated hitter Miguel Cabrera has found his long ball stroke for Detroit (22-33). He’s blasted three homers in the last two games.
First baseman Jeimer Candelario left Thursday’s game with lower back tightness and his status the rest of the way is questionable.
–Field Level Media