The Kansas City Royals lost a tough game to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, falling 3-2 at Comerica Park thanks to a great start by Max Scherzer two home runs by Alex Avila and one questionable decision by Ned Yost.
The Tigers jumped on the scoreboard first. Andy Dirks led off the second inning with a single to left field, but Omar Infante followed with a groundball at Alcides Escobar. The Royals nearly turned two, but Infante barely beat out the throw, bring Avila to the plate with a runner on.
Avila lifted a pitch the opposite way, just sending it over the left field wall for a two-run bomb. The inning could have been worse; Hector Santiago and Austin Jackson both slapped singles, but Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera hit into loud outs. Hunter nearly missed a three-run homer, or at least an RBI double, but Lorenzo Cain made a great catch in right field. Cabrera lined the ball, but right at Mike Moustakas for the third out of the inning.
The Royals first hit came in the top of the fourth inning. Alex Gordon yanked a 2-0 fastball down the rightfield line, easily clearing the wall to cut the Tigers lead in half.
Detroit had a great run-scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. Cabrera led off the inning with a single, then Prince Fielder roped a double down the right field line. With two runners in scoring position and nobody out, the next three Tigers hitters could only manage weak grounders, failing to drive either runner in.
The fifth inning really represents how most of the game went for Detroit hitters. Through the first seven innings, Jeremy Guthrie surrendered 12 hits, one home run and only struck out three, but only gave up two runs. The Tigers had plenty of opportunities to blow this game open, but couldn't deliver a big hit with runners in scoring position.
Scherzer looked much more dominant than Guthrie. Scherzer commanded all of his pitches well while flashing nasty stuff, striking out 12 Royals over seven innings. The Royals did their best to work long counts and foul tough pitches off, which helped chase the right-hander after seven frames.
Kansas City had their best chance to score against Scherzer in the seventh. Salvador Perez hit a one-out single, then Moustakas smacked a double, putting two runners in scoring position with one out. Unfortunately, Cain followed with a lazy flyball to right, not deep enough for a sacrifice fly. Jarrod Dyson hit a groundout to end the inning.
Drew Smyly replaced Scherzer in the top of the eight. Escobar led off the inning with a double to left, but Gordon popped out to centerfield and Emilio Bonifacio struck out on a check swing. Escobar advanced to third during Bonifacio's at-bat, which brought Homser to the plate.
Smyly buried the second pitch of the at-bat in the dirt against Hosmer, and the ball bounced away from Avila. Avila chased after the ball, but ran straight into Hosmer, who was still standing in the batters box. The home plate umpire did not call interference (I think it was the correct call, but I'm obviously biased) and Escobar scampered home on the play, tying the game.
Avila earned his revenge in the bottom of the eighth. Ned Yost sent Guthire back on the mound, even though he had surrendered 12 hits and had thrown over 100 pitches. The right-hander did manage to strike out Infate, but Avila smacked his second homer of the day, a solo shot to rightfield.
Guthrie did retire the next two hitters, somewhat rewarding Ned's faith in him, I guess. Still, Yost has one of the best bullpens in the AL at his disposal, Guthrie had surrendered 12 hits before the eighth inning, and is decently homer prone. I think Yost has been unfairly criticized a few times this year, but not removing Guthrie was baffling.
Joaquin Benoit retired the Royals in order in the ninth, recording his 20th save of the year.
The Royals return home Monday night to face the Cleveland Indians, wrapping up four straight series against the top two teams in the AL Central. James Shields will start for the Royals, facing Scott Kazmir.