Spotted a three-run lead in the first inning, Johnny Cueto ran through the once-potent Tigers' lineup with ease, scattering four hits and striking out eight en route to a complete-game shutout.
That this was his first win in a Royals' uniform was an afterthought given his thorough domination of Detroit in his Kauffman Stadium debut.
Facing Matt Boyd for the second time in less than a week, the aggressive Royals offense wasted little time getting on the board. Both Alcides Escobar and Ben Zobrist pounced on first-pitch fastballs, sending singles to center and left and setting the table for Lorenzo Cain. After battling to a full count, Cain ripped a double to deep left-center, pushing both Escobar and Zobrist across the plate. An Eric Hosmer strikeout later, Kendrys Morales lined a single to left for his 81st RBI of the season.
The Royals' offense put runners aboard in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings but ended each frame without adding a run to their total. Their lead remained just 3 - 0 until the seventh, the point at which the nearly 37,000 fans in attendance (for a Monday night game (in August)) waited to see another run score.
Judging by the standing ovations for Cueto that followed each scoreless frame tossed, whether the offense scored runs in bunches or not did not matter to fans in attendance.
The Royals' ace sent the side down in order in the first, third, fourth, seventh, and ninth innings. The four hits the Tigers managed were scattered across four innings, only twice getting a runner into scoring position. Cueto kept the Tigers off balance for nine dazzling innings, leaving them shaking their heads in disbelief as they swung meekly at his arrhythmic offerings.
Their befuddlement at what they were seeing was evident.
Cueto simply dominated.
In the bottom of the seventh, Eric Hosmer plated Jarrod Dyson--who entered as a pinch-runner for Ben Zobrist*--with an RBI single. That ran the score to 4 - 0 in favor of the first-place Royals.
*If Dyson entered solely as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement for Zobrist without a health concern, one could reasonably wonder why this almost never happens for the bigger liability in the lineup in nearly every aspect of the game, Alex Rios, especially after Rios misplayed a fly ball in the corner that seemed catchable and accounted for the Tigers' only extra-base hit.
The win runs the Royals' record to 67-44. In addition to commanding the largest divisional-lead in baseball, the Royals enjoy a 5.5-game lead over the Yankees, 7.0-game lead over the Astros and Blue Jays, and 8.0-game lead over the Angels for the best record in the American League, the determinant of who enjoys home-field advantage throughout the league playoffs.
Kansas City is 23 games over .500 for the first time since they went 18-11.