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Royals' defense and Guthrie's struggles give Tigers 9 - 5 win

An abysmal third and an all-around rotten defensive performance for the Royals lead to eight early runs for Detroit. They didn't look back.

Joe Robbins

When your success is dependent upon the vagaries of BABIP, games like today's are too likely an outcome. Usually the sterling Royals' defense helps Guthrie's cause.

The Royals' defense today was a goddamn abomination.

The primary culprit was Eric Hosmer, whose double error in the second led to the first two Tiger runs. This two-run error should have ended the inning, letting starter Jeremy Guthrie off the hook after loading the bases. It didn't, though.

After the Royals matched the Tigers' two runs in the top half of the third--Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain sequenced back-to-back singles, were bunted over by Alcides Escobar because of course you have to bunt in the third, and crossed the plate on an Aoki bloop single to shallow center that Cain read perfectly coming off the bat and chased Moustakas down the third base line--Guthrie came back out and got his ass handed to him by a combination of the Tigers' offense, the Royals' defense, and his apparent insistence upon pitching from behind, getting himself into hitter's counts with alarming regularity.

The inning started with Torii Hunter hitting a grounder to Alcides Escobar. Escobar came up throwing, but the throw was up the line towards home plate. Somehow, rather than staying in fair territory, Hosmer found himself receiving the throw in foul territory. If Hosmer catches the ball in fair territory, he might have had a shot at tagging Hunter out running up the line. The errant throw was clearly on Escobar, but Hosmer was not in the optimal position to turn the play into an out.

Miguel Cabrera followed Hunter's single with a liner to left that moved Hunter to third.

Victor Martinez followed with a grounder that Hosmer saw escape his glove on a diving play, turning a likely double-play with the absurdly slow combo of Cabrera and Martinez involved into a Victor Martinez RBI infield single. J.D. Martinez hit a grounder to Alcides Escobar, who had trouble fielding the ball before converting just one out on the force at second.

For those keeping track at home, that's five free outs that the Royals gift-wrapped for the Tigers. The score at this point was 3 - 2 in favor of Detroit. If we absolve Escobar of his sin of errant throwing and say Hunter should have been standing on first base, the Tigers should have been trailing 2 - 1, and the third should have been over.

Of course, that isn't what happened.

Guthrie, undermined by his defense, is completely deflated at this point.

Don Kelly lined a double to right. Cabrera scores. 4 - 2, Detroit.

Ned Yost (I think? Could've been Dave Eiland. Don't remember. Don't care.) comes to the mound.

Guthrie is still pitching.

Nick Castellanos followed a coaching visit to the mound with a double on a sharp grounder past a diving Moustakas (also a recurring motif in this dreadful outing) up the line to Alex Gordon in the corner. 6 - 2, Detroit.

Guthrie is still pitching.

Alex Avila doubled, driving in Castellanos. 7 - 2, Detroit.

Guthrie is still pitching.

Andrew Romine singled sharply to left, moving Alex Avila to third.

Guthrie is still pitching.

Ian Kinsler popped out to Salvador Perez.

Guthrie is still pitching.

Torii Hunter singled on a liner to right. Avila scored. Romine advanced to second. 8 - 2, Detroit.

Finally, the hook.

From there on out, the Royals bullpen allowed very little in the way of openings for the Tigers to exploit. Eventually in the bottom of the eighth, Jason Frasor yielded a ninth Tigers run. For those keeping track at home, that's the second one that didn't come after an inning should have ended.

The Royals offense eventually added runs after chasing Verlander's offerings out of the zone early in the count and letting him off the hook after looking patient for a couple early frames. Eric Hosmer led off the seventh with a triple on a ball up and out of the zone--the second time Hosmer swung at a pitch shoulder-high and turned it into a hit. Butler followed with an RBI ground-out. After a Moustakas fly out, Lorenzo Cain hit a gapper that Torii Hunter and Don Kelly converged on. Hunter caught the ball and instantaneously collided with Kelly. Hunter's glove went flying, releasing the ball into the wild. The ball, searching for freedom, skidded to the wall behind the pair. Kelly couldn't find the ball. Cain rounded the bases with an inside-the-park pseudo dong hanging. 8 - 4, Detroit.

The Royals would fail to add any more runs to their total in that inning, but they would add a fifth in the top of the eighth when Hosmer drove in Omar Infante with one out and runners on first and second. 8 - 5, Detroit.

As stated before, the Tigers added a ninth run to their total in the bottom of the eighth. 9 - 5, Detroit.

It all comes back to the third inning, though. No one could do anything right. If ever there were a Royals' inning that was a shitshow through and through, it was this one. Jason Grimsley, Ken Harvey, Terrence Long, Chip Ambres, and Yuniesky Betancourt may as well have been playing. Guthrie could only throw strikes if it meant grooving a pitch for the Tigers to line all over the park. Yost froze when he should have pulled his starter at least three runs earlier. Hosmer blew multiple plays. Escobar was anything but sure-handed.

It was an unmitigated disaster. The Tigers ended up giving the Royals plenty of runs. The Royals actually raised Verlander's ERA from 4.80 to 4.82.

The Royals played Tigers baseball in only the worst ways. They paid the price of having their lead trimmed to a single game, but this loss was abysmal.

Guthrie is still pitching.