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Morales' Historic Day Fuels Royals Past Tigers

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In a record-breaking season for Kendrys Morales, his best day yet came when the Royals needed him most.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

When Royals fans awoke to find that Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon were getting off days, they joked that today's lineup would "probably score 10 runs."

September hasn't been kind for the Royals thus far. Inconsistent starting pitching has been a major problem, but the Royals' offense has been completely different this month. Kansas City has been hitting for a lot more power (already 27 home runs, the most for any month despite still having nine more September games), but the team's batting average has dropped and the strikeout totals have risen. Today, all of that was shoved aside as Kansas City had one of its most productive offensive days thus far in 2015.

Kendrys Morales had the Royals' first three-homer game in 24 years, and his 15 total bases set a club record. In all, the Royals banged out 19 hits in a 10-3 win over the Detroit Tigers. As a result, Kansas City won the season series with Detroit, 10 games to nine. Considering how badly the Royals were whipped by the Tigers last season (6-13 in 19 games), the 2015 season series is a major success.

Kansas City took a 2-0 lead after the first inning via an Eric Hosmer sac fly and an Alex Rios RBI single. In the third, Morales clubbed his first home run of the day for a 3-0 lead. Three hitters later, Paulo Orlando one-upped Morales with his seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot to extend the score to 5-0.

Detroit got back into the game by plating three unearned runs in the third, but Morales responded in the fourth with his second big fly of the afternoon. In the next inning, Christian Colon and Ben Zobrist tacked on RBI hits to give the Royals their five-run cushion back.

Tigers starter Alfredo Simon was buried by the Royals. Fox Sports Kansas City emphasized his brutal struggles in his losing starts, and that trend continued on Sunday afternoon. Simon recorded just 13 outs, which matches the total of hits that he allowed. Making matters worse, three of his outs were recorded via pickoffs or throw outs at home plate. He was brutal, needing 102 pitches to get through 4.1 innings. He walked three Royals to match his three strikeouts, but he also surrendered three home runs.

Kansas City scored two additional runs in the later half of the game. In the sixth, Morales led off with a triple, his second of the season, and scored on a wild pitch. In the eighth, he swatted his third home run of the day. His season homer count is now 21, putting him in the team lead and making him the third Royal to reach the 20 HR milestone in 2015. This is the first time since 2002 where Kansas City has had three players hit 20 home runs. Way back then, it was Carlos Beltran, Mike Sweeney, and Raul Ibanez, and now, the club consists of Kendrys Morales, Salvador Perez, and Mike Moustakas.

Other offensive highlights from the Royals: Drew Butera reached base three times (two walks and a double), making today his best offensive game of the season. While the Royals' backup catcher was producing on the field, Perez terrorized random members of the Royals' dugout with bubble gum.

Christian Colon went 4-for-5, making today the first three-hit and four-hit game for him in his young career. Morales was a perfect 4-for-4 and drove in himself three times, raising his season RBI total to 105. He also scored five times, a career-best. Ben Zobrist reached base three times. Alex Rios extended his hitting streak to 10 games. All nine Royals had at least one base hit.

The pitching was encouraging as well for the Royals. Kris Medlen (5-1) wasn't particularly sharp, but he managed to get through five innings without surrendering an earned run. All three runs he allowed were unearned thanks to an error by Colon. He needed 97 pitches to get through five innings, but he gave up just five hits and three walks. He struck out two Tigers.

Arguably the most non-Morales line of the day was that of Danny Duffy's, who was dominant in relief of Medlen. Duffy, who was removed from the Royals' rotation earlier in the week, fired four scoreless innings to close out the game. He struck out six batters and walked none. He earned his first career save in the process.

Ryan Lefebrve stated that if Duffy can become a dependable long-innings reliever, it's every bit as dangerous as having a forceful late-inning trio at the back of your bullpen for the playoffs. And he's completely correct.

It was a great day all around for the Royals, who dropped their magic number to win the A.L. Central down to three. In addition, the Blue Jays lost for the second consecutive day, doubling Kansas City's lead for homefield advantage. The Royals' lead over Toronto is now two games. 13 games remain in 2015.

It's been a rough month for the Royals, but days like today really put things in perspective. Kansas City is going to clinch the A.L. Central at home next week. It's going to be amazing. At 87-62, the Royals are the American League's best team. Embrace that - if there's anybody who knows how ugly things can get, it's this fanbase. Enjoy it while it's here, because this is really, really freakin' fun.