Royals fall 4-3 to Tigers, lose sixth straight season opener

Leon Halip

Alex Gonzalez is the bane of the Royals existence.

The Royals rang in the new baseball season in cruel and unusual fashion, blowing a 3-1 lead over the final three innings of the game en route to a 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit scored first on a Victor Martinez solo homer, yanking a misplaced James Shields breaking ball into over the rightfield wall in the bottom of the second inning. Martinez nearly hit another home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, pulling the ball foul by a few feet.

The Royals pulled ahead of the Tigers in the top of the fourth with a crooked number against Justin Verlander. Alex Gordon drew a one-out walk, then scored from first on a Salvador Perez double. Perez, who finished the game a scintillating 4-4 at the plate, scored on a Lorenzo Cain Texas-league single.

The Tigers gifted the Royals their final run of the inning; first walking Alcides Escobar to put two runners, then Alex Gonzalez booted a Norichika Aoki grounder to load the bases. Omar Infante worked a two-out walk against Verlander with the bases loaded to drive in the Royals third and final run of the game.

Verlander battled his command for most of the game, but still kept the Royals in check, allowing three runs over six innings. The right-hander only struck out two hitters while issuing three walks, but the KC offense helped Tigers pitching by stranding eight runners.

Shields ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh. Austin Jackson cracked a one-out triple, then Alex Avila drew a walk to put runners on the corners. That prompted Ned Yost to turn to Aaron Crow.

I'm just going to leave this Tweet here:

Crow did strikeout Nick Castellanos, but Jackson scored on a wild pitch/passed ball during the plate appearance. Gonzalez lined a triple during the next at-bat for good measure, tying the ballgame at 3.

Wade Davis pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and came out again for the ninth. Avila drew a one-out walk against Davis, then Castellanos followed with a single. Yost removed Davis for Greg Holland, who promptly allowed a walkoff single to Gonzalez.

(Gonzalez video will go here as soon as MLB.com lets me embed it. For now, here's a link)

Sigh. That's probably an out if the infield isn't in, but you kind of have to keep your infield in during that situation.

Looking as some poistives, the Royals defense played quite well. Gordon threw out Castellanos trying to stretch a single into a double, Cain made some nice plays in the outfield and Hosmer made a nice diving tag.

On the negative side of things, Norichika Aoki went 0-5 with two strikeouts while the New and Improved Mike Moustakas went 0-4, stranding four baserunners. Yost's usage of the bullpen also left something to be desired.

One of the most aggravating parts of this loss is that tomorrow is an off-day, so we can't get the bitter taste out of our mouths until at least Wednesday. Save us, Jason Vargas.

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