If tonight was any indication, the season series between the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers is going to be a good one. Two stellar offenses swung for the fences all the way to the end on Tuesday night, culminating in an 8-6 win for Kansas City.
After squandering a scoring opportunity in the first inning, it appeared that the Royals would do the same in the second after making two straight outs following consecutive walks to open the frame. Jarrod Dyson, in his first at bat of the season, lined a single into left field to plate the game's first run, though Kendrys Morales likely wouldn't have scored had Detroit catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia not whiffed on the throw home. In the next at bat, Alcides Escobar blooped a flare into shallow center field, scoring two more runs to extend the lead to 3-0.
It was great to see Dyson back in the lineup after missing the first 12 games of the year with an oblique injury. He figures to step into a regular role in right field.
In the third inning, Kansas City extended its lead with a textbook two-out rally. With none on and two out, Morales singled and Alex Gordon walked to bring up Salvador Perez, who lined a double into the left field corner to score both runners. Kansas City had a 5-0 lead and appeared to be in complete control, especially with the way Yordano Ventura was pitching.
Ventura (1-0) cruised through the first four innings of the game. He impressively worked out of a bases loaded, one out jam by fanning Miguel Cabrera and getting Victor Martinez to foul out to first in the third inning. With his team in control, Ventura pumped the strike zone with a mix of high-velocity pitches. He gave two runs back in the fifth inning when Cabrera doubled home two runs, but in the home half of the frame, Perez clobbered a hanging curveball for a three-run home run over the left field wall. With five RBI, Perez established a new career best, and the Royals were way out in front, 8-2.
Believe it or not, it was the Royals' bullpen, not the Tigers', that made the game interesting in the late innings. In the seventh, Danny Duffy gave up a three run bomb to Saltalamacchia to cut the deficit in half. The most tense inning of the game was the eighth, where Detroit loaded the bases against Joakim Soria with just one out. Soria was pulled, and Kelvin Herrera was summoned into the game.
Trailing by three, Cabrera once again came up in a huge situation, and once again, he struck out. After that, Herrera plunked Victor Martinez to bring in a run, making the score 8-6. However, he escaped with the lead by inducing a flyout to J.D. Martinez.
In the ninth, Wade Davis worked around a two-out walk to earn his sixth save in as many chances this year. He appears to be just fine. For Soria, however, the concern is very real. He was charged with another run to raise his ERA to 7.71. It was interesting to see Ned Yost put him before Herrera in the relief order, meaning that Herrera may have taken over as the "eighth-inning guy."
Ventura's final line: 5.0 innings, six hits, and five strikeouts. He walked three hitters and threw 98 pitches, surrendering two runs. The Royals improved to 14-3 in Ventura's last 17 starts.
Detroit starter Shane Greene (1-1) took the loss after failing to get out of the fifth inning. He was rocked to the tune of six hits and seven runs, along with four walks, over 4.1 innings. He struck out just two Royals and needed 85 pitches to get 13 outs. Blaine Hardy allowed the three-run bomb to Perez, though Kyle Ryan and Drew VerHagen worked scoreless seventh and eighth innings to keep the game close.
Cabrera had one of the worst games in his MLB career, striking out four times in his five at bats. Two came with the bases loaded. In his career, he's a .399 hitter with the sacks full. The Royals pitched him very carefully, and it paid off.
The Royals are 9-4. The Tigers fall to 7-5. After going 10-9 against Detroit last year, Kansas City opens the 19-game season series between the two teams with a victory.
Kauffman Stadium continues to be a house of horrors for opposing teams, as the Royals are now 5-1 at home this year.
The series continues tomorrow in a battle of aces. Ian Kennedy (2-0, 0.69 ERA) will face Jordan Zimmerman (2-0, 0.00). Zimmerman has yet to allow an earned run this year, but the Royals offense is showing signs of awakening. It'll be a fun night at Kauffman Stadium.