The Kansas City Royals took advantage of a shaky Justin Verlander, tagging the Detroit Tigers starter with six runs in the Royals 6-5 victory on Saturday night.
Mike Moustakas hit the game-winning home run in the fifth inning, a solo blast off Verlander to give the Royals a lead they would never relinquish. The third baseman had a great game, going 3-for-4 at the plate.
The Tigers jumped ahead early, scoring two runs in the first and one run in the second. It looked like it was going to be a long night for Jeremy Guthrie, but the starter blanked the Tigers in the next two innings.
The Royals scored a run in the first inning on a Salvador Perez sacrifice fly, but tied the game in the third inning with a two-out rally. Eric Hosmer slapped a single, then Billy Butler drew a walk, putting two runners on for Perez. Perez roped a two-out double down the rightfield line, which scored both runners. The catcher was thrown out attempting to advance to third base, but the clutch double had evened the score at 3-3.
Kansas City regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Lorenzo Cain, Moustakas and David Lough hit three consecutive singles to start the inning. Lough's single was hit to right-centerfield, and should have been deep enough to score Cain. Cain, however, did not read the ball well, and could only advance one base.
The baserunning error looked like it would cost the Royals, as Alcides Escobar lined out to second base for the first out of the inning. Chris Getz followed with a weak groundball to second base. Ramon Santiago and Jhonny Peralta attempted to turn two, but a combination of Getz's speed and how weak the ball was hit lead to Getz being safe at first. Cain scored on the play.
Alex Gordon and Hosmer followed with back-to-back walks against Verlander, forcing in Moustakas from third. Hosmer's at-bat was particularly impressive, as he worked his way back from an 0-2 count to draw the walk against the right-hander.
The Royals entered the fifth inning with a 5-3 lead, but surrendered a pair of runs in the top half of the inning. Prince Fielder hit a one-out groundball right at Getz. The second baseman misjudged the grounder, then twisted his knee attempting to reach back and field the ball. Getz left the game with a left mild medial knee sprain, according to Bob Dutton.
Peralta followed with a two-out single to put two runners on, but Guthrie forced Andy Dirks to hit a slow groundball to Hosmer. Unfortunately, both players were too nonchalant on the grounder and Hosmer lost his footing, which lead to Dirks being safe at second. Rob Rogacki of Bless You Boys provides us with the .GIF
Alex Avila drove in two runs with a single up the middle. Elliot Johnson, who replaced Getz at second, attempted to make a diving play, but failed to secure the groundball. Fortunately, Moustakas hit his solo homer in the bottom half of the inning, and the Tigers would not score over the final four frames.
Guthrie did a good job pitching to the score last night, allowing five runs on ten hits over six innings. The right-hander did fan six Tigers' hitters, which is a rare feat for the Stormin' Mormom; the last time Guthrie averaged one strikeout per nine innings was against the St. Louis Cardinals on May 30.
Verlander looked awful against the Royals, allowing six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. The former AL Cy Young award winner issued four walks, and only struck out three. Royals hitters did a good job taking advantage of his struggles, which have been few and far between against Kansas City.
Hosmer had a multi-hit game on Saturday, while Butler reached base twice with a single and a walk. Gordon worked a pair of walks against Verlander, and saw 28 pitches in his five plate appearances. In comparison, Lough saw eight pitches in four plate appearances.
Aaron Crow nearly gave the game away in the top of the eighth, but worked around runners on second and third with one out by forcing back-to-back groundouts against Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera. Greg Holland allowed a one-out double to Victor Martinez in the ninth, but slammed the door shut for his 24th save of the season.
The Royals will go for the sweep against the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday afternoon. James Shields will face Doug Fister, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 p.m. CT.