KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Most starting pitchers would gladly take a 10-7 record and 3.69 ERA after 21 starts.
Those numbers, however, belong to Justin Verlander, and the expectations are higher for the five-time Detroit Tigers All-Star and 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner.
The right-hander was roughed up for six runs, five earned, on eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings in a 6-5 loss Saturday night to the Kansas City Royals.
"I would say over the course of the season up to this point, and there's still a lot of season left, his performance hasn't been quite as consistent as in the past," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's just not what you expect of him, which is a little unfair because of what you expect of him."
"He just wasn't sharp. It looks to me like he's pitching a little like he's not throwing with confidence in his stuff. He just wasn't real sharp with anything. He was pitching behind the hitters, putting himself in a position where he just didn't want to give in and it ended up hurting him. He just didn't have a Justin Verlander-type game. These things happen."
But rarely against the Royals. Verlander had not lost to the Royals since Sept. 9, 2009, but gave up six runs, five earned, on eight hits and four walks in 5 2-3 innings. It was the seventh time in 21 starts that Verlander failed to make it into the sixth inning.
"It's been a see-saw battle," Verlander said of his season. "I haven't been able to find it. I'm trying to find that consistency. In this game I had a couple opportunities where I was starting to find it and it just went right back to not having it.
"They go out and score five runs and that should be more than enough."
Salvador Perez drove in three runs and Mike Moustakas went 3 for 4 with a game-winning home run.
Moustakas homered to right in the fifth to snap a 5-5 tie.
"His stuff wasn't that bad," said Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who went 3 for 4 and drove in a pair of runs. "He got behind a few guys. They had a good game plan and had some tough at-bats. You can't keep getting behind guys and giving free passes. You want to make them earn it."
Perez drove in a run in the first with a sacrifice fly and stroked a two-run double in the third.
Jeremy Guthrie (9-7) picked up the victory, surrendering five runs on 10 hits and two walks in six innings.
Aaron Crow, the fourth of five Kansas City pitchers, pitched out of danger in the eighth inning. Alex Avila led off with a single, his third hit, and pinch hitter Don Kelly walked. After Austin Jackson bunted them both over, Crow retired Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera on ground balls to third base to strand them.
Greg Holland worked the ninth to collect his 24th save in 26 chances, although he yielded a one-out double to Victor Martinez.
Prince Fielder and Martinez stroked RBI-singles in the first as the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
The Royals seized a 5-3 lead in the fourth when Chris Getz brought home a run with a fielder's choice grounder, while Verlander walked Eric Hosmer with the bases loaded.
Avila drove in two runs with a two-out fifth inning single to tie the score at 5-all.
Getz, who was recalled Friday from Triple-A Omaha, sustained a mild medial sprain of his left knee in the fifth inning while trying to field Fielder's smash grounder. He was replaced by Elliot Johnson.
NOTES: Royals RHP Felipe Paulino, who threw a 45-pitch bullpen session, is scheduled to throw a two-inning simulated game Monday. Paulino, who remains on the disabled list after having Tommy John surgery last year, said the elbow is fine, but he has been setback by a sore shoulder. ... RHP James Shields (1-3, 3.75 ERA), who starts Sunday, has only one home victory in nine starts this season. The Tigers will counter with RHP Doug Fister (7-5, 4.02).
Home Runs - His <a href="http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1703742-chris-davis-ties-record-for-most-homers-by-al-player-before-all-star-break" target="_blank">37 homers are the most in MLB history</a> before the All-Star break since 2001 when Barry Bonds hit 39. He also broke the Orioles' franchise record <a href="http://baltimore.orioles.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130714&content_id=53734828¬ebook_id=53743366&vkey=notebook_bal&c_id=bal" target="_blank">along with tying the American League</a> for most homers before the break. 1st 4 Games - Davis became <a href="http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/04/05/chris-davis-becomes-fourth-player-in-mlb-history-to-homer-in-first-four-games-of-season/" target="_blank">the 4th player in MLB history</a> to hit a homer in each of the first four games of the season.
Gerrit Cole became the first pitcher in MLB history to defeat two Cy Young winners in each of his first two starts, per <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/346523671269081088" target="_blank">ESPN Stats & Info</a>. He defeated <a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?id=330611123" target="_blank">San Francisco's Tim Lincecum</a> in his debut and then <a href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?id=330616123" target="_blank">Zack Greinke in his second start</a>.
After winning the Triple Crown in 2012, Cabrera is on pace to hit .365 with 51 HR and 163 RBI. <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/357913013501706241" target="_blank">According to ESPN Stats & Info</a>, Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx are the only players with a .360/50/160 season. Oh, and <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130716/SPORTS0104/307160024/1004/SPORTS/Home-run-leader-Chris-Davis-marvels-at-Tigers--Miguel-Cabrera" target="_blank">he's only seven homers behind Chris Davis</a> right now. So he's also in the hunt for a second straight Triple Crown.
Hits - Puig's 44 hits in June were the most in a debut month since Joe DiMaggio had 48 in 1936. More History: He was the 1st player ever with 34 hits and seven homers in his 1st 20 career games, <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/349396672167682048" target="_blank">per Elias</a>. His 15 RBI through his first four games<a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/343213213548154880" target="_blank"> tied the MLB record</a> held by Jack Merson and Danny Espinosa. He became the first player since 1900 to have 27 hits and five homers <a href="https://twitter.com/espn/status/347732770551906306" target="_blank">through his first 15 career games. </a>
Doubles - Machado hit 38 doubles before the end of June, one shy of the most since 1921, via <a href="https://twitter.com/EddieInTheYard/status/351509674341830657" target="_blank">Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun</a>. He is just off the pace needed to break the single-season doubles record of 67 (as of 7/18, ESPN Stats & Info has him finishing with a projected 66). 3-Hit Games: He leads the league with 14 three-hit games, per <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/355152727703158785" target="_blank">ESPN Stats & Info.</a>
Wins - <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/22627281/max-scherzer-becomes-first-pitcher-since-1986-to-start-season-130" target="_blank">Max Scherzer is the first pitcher</a> to start the season 13-0 since <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/352785712556421121" target="_blank">Roger Clemens did so in 1986</a>. According to Elias (<a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/350799658081202177" target="_blank">via ESPN Stats & Info</a>), Scherzer is the first pitcher ever to go undefeated in his first 16 starts of the season while recording at least 120 strikeouts.
4-Hit Games: Mike Trout's eight four-hit games are the most by a player before turning 22 years old since Al Kaline had nine in 1956, <a href="http://proxy.espn.go.com/espn/elias?date=20130628" target="_blank">according to Elias. </a>
The Red Sox slugger notched his <a href="http://bostonherald.com/sports/red_sox_mlb/clubhouse_insider/2013/07/david_ortiz_breaks_harold_baines_record_for_hits_by_a" target="_blank">1,689th hit as a DH</a>, passing Harold Baines for the most all time.
Harper will be the first position player in league history to play in two MLB All-Star games before turning 21, <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNStatsInfo/status/353892523439169537" target="_blank">according to ESPN Stats & Info.</a>
Andy Pettitte's Ks
Andy Pettitte passed Whitey Ford <a href="http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/07/01/andy-pettitte-passes-whitey-ford-for-first-on-yankees-all-time-strikeout-list/" target="_blank">as the Yankees' all-time strikeout leader</a> with 1,958, which came against Minnesota's Justin Morneau.
With 24 homers at the All Star break and a projected pace of 41, Ibanez is primed to <a href="http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2013/6/27/4469322/raul-ibanez-home-run-record-mariners-age-41" target="_blank">shatter the record</a> for most home runs in a single season after the age of 40 (Ted Williams hit 29).
The Astros slugger is a promising young player, but his lack of plate discipline and historic strikeout rates are red flags. Carter is on pace to be punched out 218 times this season, just five short of the <a href="http://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/histrk2.shtml" target="_blank">223 times record-holder Mark Reynolds struck out in 2009</a>.
Doug Fister has been <a href="http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/36884/doug-fister-is-hitting-a-lot-of-batters" target="_blank">hitting an eye-opening number of batters</a> this year. He has 13 HBP. While the all time record (41 in a dead-ball era season) is untouchable, the modern era record of 21 batters hit is very much in sight.
A.J. Burnett's Rosin Bag Explosions
Two rosin bags <a href="http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/eye-on-baseball/22683109/video-aj-burnett-and-the-revenge-of-the-rosin-bag" target="_blank">have exploded on Burnett </a>before the All-Star break. That has to be a record.