If Friday night was to be our best shot at beating the first place Detroit Tigers, the Royals seemingly don't have much of a shot of winning this series. The Tigers battered Royals ace James Shields for eight runs in seven plus innings of work, slamming five doubles and a home run in an 8-2 victory. The Royals got on the board first when Omar Infante (Royals MVP Omar Infante!) scored after tripling off his former teammates in the first inning. The Tigers erased that deficit in the third on back-to-back RBI doubles by the heart of their lineup - Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez.
Detroit would add three more runs in the fourth, two coming on a blast by catcher Alex Avila. James seemed to labor much of the night, although he was still under 100 pitches when Ned left him to start the seventh inning. Shields would then plunk Ian Kinsler, allow a single to Torii Hunter, retire Miguel Cabrera on a deep fly out, and give up an RBI single to Austin Jackson before Ned finally gave Big Game James the hook. Kelvin Herrera would give up a two-run double that would pretty much put the game out of reach. Ned seemed to acknowledge this by later putting in Brett Hayes and Michael Mariot in the game for mop up duty. I think even the walk-ons got some minutes.
The Royals did hang dong tonight, so in a small way, we won. Billy Butler hit a laser beam line drive that just landed fair down the left field line. But the Royals managed just four hits and no walks against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, and the club mailed it in for the later innings, with only ten pitches required to retire Royals hitters in the eighth and ninth innings combined. Shields just didn't seem that effective tonight and he wasn't helped much by the defensive escapades of Nori Aoki. Which, I loved Aoki coming into this season, but we need to have a talk about Norichika. The strikeouts, the defensive mishaps - this is not the player I thought he would be. Is it the Ned Effect?
But hey, not to make excuses for the team, but they're not used to playing in front of large crowds, or the stadium messed them up, or the weather wasn't ideal, or they're still adjusting to playing Detroit, or its allergy season or something. But its not an excuse!