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Ninth-inning rally falls short as Royals lose 3-2 to Tigers

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Back to back home runs in the ninth were not enough.

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

You can't predict ball, y'all. Despite all our technology and sophistication, predictions are still incredibly difficult to make accurately, even outside baseball. In the game thread, I predicted the Royals would score runs off Jordan Zimmerman. The Royals did not score any runs until the ninth inning when they hit back-to-back homers off not-Jordan-Zimmerman.

It wasn't exactly for lack of trying; there were plenty of chances. The Royals had two baserunners in the second and got nothing. They had another in the third, but Mike Moustakas got picked off (not sure if TOOTBLAN...couldn't watch the game at that time). They had two runners in the fifth with no outs and managed to get nothing after Jarrod Dyson hit into a double play, though not a conventional one. It was a weak grounder to Ian Kinsler, who ended up throwing to first for the out. There was then a short run-down for the runner heading to second base, during which Alex Gordon ran home. The Tigers threw home and got him out easily. Gordon had little choice; it was that or an easier double play.

The Royals got two more runners in the sixth, as the Tigers failed to prove their juggling skills in the infield, and again scored no runs. The Royals got two more runners in the seventh but failed to score after the Tigers removed Zimmerman for Mark Lowe. You see, the Royals had their fair share of runners. They just didn't do anything with them. That carried through to the ninth.

On the other side, Ian Kennedy had another pretty good start. He gave up a walk, a single, and a double in the third inning, which scored one run. He gave up another run in the sixth off a HBP and two singles. He was definitely saved in the seventh inning as he began giving up a bunch of runners, but Luke Hochevar put out the fire by recording two straight outs to end the threat without giving up any runs. Kennedy's final line was 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Had Hochevar not put out the fire, that line would look a lot worse.

The Tigers scored an insurance run against Chien-Ming Wang in the ninth, which proved to be important. Gordon and Salvador Perez hit back-to-back homers in the bottom of the ninth off Francisco Rodriguez. The Royals got two more baserunners as Jarrod Dyson and Alcides Escobar walked, but Rodriguez struck out Moustakas on a changeup to end the game.

You could discuss the changeup called for a strike earlier in the plate appearance. The ball was not a strike yet was called as such. The pitch on which Moustakas struck out was a similar pitch, a changeup outside and off the plate. Had that earlier pitch not been called a strike, maybe Moustakas doesn't swing at the final pitch. Maybe he does. It's hard to say, but it's hard to ignore.

At the same time, the Royals had a lot of other chances and failed to capitalize. That's probably a larger reason why they lost.