Royals looking forward to showdown with Tigers

Royals looking forward to showdown with Tigers

CLEVELAND -- It's only late April, but the Royals know that the four-game series starting Thursday against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium will have a bit more significance than your ordinary series.

The Tigers have owned the American League Central for quite some time now. And Detroit dominated Kansas City last season, winning 13 of the 19 games. It was even a bigger mismatch at Kauffman, where the Tigers won eight of 10.

"I don't know why it was like that," left fielder Alex Gordon said. "They got good players. Hopefully it'll be different this year."

Gordon and other Royals sense the magnitude of these games with the Tigers.

"Obviously they've won the Central for so many years, so they're the team to beat," Gordon said. "We got to the World Series but they won the [AL] Central, so we still have to beat them. You realize that and take notice, and when they come to town, you know those are games you got to win."

First baseman Eric Hosmer agreed.

"Detroit is the team we have to beat to get to October," Hosmer said. "It's always been tough with them."

Can you call a series in late April and early May a big series?

"Sure, when it's Detroit or someone in your division," Hosmer said. "But yeah, this is a big series. They're the team that has won the division for a while now, and we know we have to play our best."

While the Tigers dominated the Royals in 2015, Kansas City has reason to believe this year will be different.

"We're a different team now because of what we were able to do in the playoffs," Hosmer said. "It will definitely be a good series. We're looking forward to it."

Kauffman Stadium should be packed and rocking.

"With our fans, I'm sure it will be," Gordon said.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.