Yordano Ventura struggled through four lengthly innings before leaving hurt, and once again, the Royals offense was unable to do much of anything - until it mattered most.
And boy, did they break out in a big way.
The end result was a 7-4 win for the Kansas City Royals, stunning the Detroit Tigers and Francisco Rodriguez with an explosion in the ninth inning. Trailing 4-2 and down to their final out, Kansas City put together a stunning, five-run ninth frame that left Tigers fans headed for the exits before the conclusion of a once-inevitable Detroit win.
Alcides Escobar opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly against Daniel Norris, one of the few young starting pitchers in Detroit's rotation. The 1-0 lead didn't last long, though.
Coming off his first career nine-inning complete game, Ventura gave up baserunners left and right. He did not pitch a single clean inning. The Tigers got two runs in the bottom of the third on RBI singles by Cameron Maybin and J.D. Martinez, and in the fourth, they added a third on another run-producing single by Maybin.
Ventura took the hill for the fifth, but he gave up a leadoff double to Justin Upton. He appeared to be in discomfort throughout the fifth inning, and it was after facing one batter that he was lifted by Ned Yost. The diagnosis on Ventura is officially "back stiffness/tightness." He's slated to pitch in one more game, and should he be healthy enough to go, he'd need just 3.1 innings to log a new career high. However, it's yet to be known if his injury will prevent him from making his final start of the season, which is currently scheduled for Friday night against the Indians.
Trailing 3-1, the Royals got a run back in the top of the sixth when Kendrys Morales hit a home run to left-center field. This is a milestone home run for Morales, who hammered his 30th of the season. Morales is the first Royal since Jermaine Dye in 2000 to hit 30 home runs in one year. So there's your good news.
The bad news is that the Tigers got the run right back in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by J.D. Martinez. All four Tiger runs came on RBI singles.
Norris' line: 5.2 innings, six hits, two runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. He was pretty good, but the Royals missed a lot of opportunities to score runs.
Of course, the Tigers offense missed a ton of chances to score as well. It's pretty amazing, all things considered, that they managed just four runs on a day that featured 14 hits and four walks. It ultimately came back to bite them at the worst time.
The relievers used by the Royals to keep it close: Peter Moylan, Matt Strahm (who allowed the fourth run), Kevin McCarthy, Joakim Soria, and Wade Davis.
Then came the ninth inning. Alex Gordon led off with a single. After an out, Hunter Dozier singled, and he was lifted for pinch-runner Terrance Gore. The tying run was brought to the plate, but soon Paulo Orlando came up with two outs. With his team once strike away from a loss, Orlando hammered a game-tying double off the centerfield wall.
But the Royals didn't stop there. Cheslor Cuthbert worked a walk to bring up Eric Hosmer, who was given a sinking fastball at his ankles. He swung at a pitch that typically results in a routine groundout, but the sheer muscle of Hosmer was enough to lift it to deep right field. The ball soared over the wall for a tie-breaking, three-run home run, giving Kansas City a 7-4 lead.
It was Hosmer's 24th of the season, extending a career high. The blast also gives him exactly 100 RBI for the season, which marks the first time in his career that he's achieved that milestone.
Orlando's hit prevented Ventura from taking his first career loss against the Tigers. He's still 7-0 against Detroit.
Kelvin Herrera worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn the save, considering Davis already pitched in the eighth.
The win: Davis, he's 2-1. The loss: Rodriguez, he's 3-4. The save: Herrera, number 12.
Kansas City is 78-77. To get their fourth straight winning season, the team needs to go 4-3 over the next seven days. There are seven games remaining.
Tomorrow, the Royals look to win the series when they send Edinson Volquez to the mound against an overdue Detroit offense. Oh, I'm sure that'll go well. He'll be opposed by Matt Boyd, who is also not good.