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Royals trim Tiger playoff hopes, 12-9

Good pitching is for wimps.

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

This was a long, ugly game. It could have been uglier - the good guys could have lost.

The Royals picked up right where they left off the afternoon before; they hit for the cycle in their first four batters. Billy Burns led off the game with a single on the first pitch he saw. Whit Merrifield, who started at first base today, battled the count full and then launched the eighth pitch, a fastball on the outside corner, into right center for an RBI triple. Kendrys Morales destroyed the first pitch he saw, a hanging curve ball, down the left field line for an RBI double. Finally Salvador Perez finished a battle of his own with Detroit starter Matt Boyd and took a 2-2 change-up off the outside edge deep over the left field wall. Making the score 4-0.

Boyd may seem like an afterthought in the above paragraph, and that’s because he just didn’t last very long in this game. He was pulled five pitches later after Paulo Orlando lined a single to left field. That actually may not have been entirely Boyd’s fault; for some reason Justin Upton was playing essentially on the track. If he had been in even a few steps more, it might have been an easy line out. Blaine Hardy came in and Orlando stole second. Then Alex Gordon battled back from an 0-2 count to take a walk. But Hardy buckled down and retired the bottom of the Royals’ order to end the inning. All told Matt Boyd pitched 0 innings allowed 5 hits and 4 runs with no strike outs and no walks. Not the line the Tigers were looking for, but it will suit the Royals just fine

Anibal Sanchez came on in relief in the second inning and got through it without allowing a run. However, in the third he allowed a single to Orlando, but struck out Gordon and Alcides Escobar. Then he allowed back-to-back home runs to Cheslor Cuthbert and Raul Mondesi.

Edinson Volquez worked pretty easily through the first two innings but ran into trouble in the third. Eventually he loaded the bases for Victor Martinez who launched a grand slam that would have tied the game if not for the power heroics of the Royals’ number eight and nine hitters in the top of the inning. Volquez gave up a double to J.D. Martinez then induced a popup from Justin Upton before walking Erick Aybar and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to load the bases. At that point Ned had finally seen enough and he yanked Volquez for Peter Moylan.

Then came a bizarre turn worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan. Andrew Romine, who had led off the inning with a flyout attempted to bunt for a hit. With the bases loaded. It wasn’t a particularly good bunt and Moylan was able to field it and flip it to Salvy to end the inning, and the Tiger threat, pretty easily.

The Royals answered right back, however. Two-Hit Whit led off the fourth inning with the aforementioned second hit and then stole second base. Kendrys Morales drove him home with another single. Alex Gordon ripped his own hit into the right center gap and it scored Morales when the relay inexplicably went to third base while Alex was sliding into second and Morales was most of the way home. The Royals lead was 9-4, and all seemed well again.

Then the Tigers got another run in the bottom of the fourth; this time they did it with a Miguel Cabrera ground ball following a Cameron Maybin triple off of Dillon Gee.

The runs continued to pile up for the Royals in the sixth inning. Alex Gordon belted his seventeenth home run of the year which double as a sonic slam after Orlando hit a single and made the score 11-5.

Dillon Gee got pulled in the bottom of the same inning after allowing singles to Ian Kinsler and Cabrera. Brian Flynn was brought in and walked Victor Martinez, then threw a wild pitch to score Kinsler before retiring J.D. Martinez on a pop up to escape the inning.

Joakim Soria came on to pitch the seventh inning and while Rex and Ryan went on and on about how Soria looked so different and better yesterday, he served up a nice, easy home run to Justin Upton. Upton didn’t even get under the ball, it had all kinds of top spin when it cleared the fence in left center.

Herrera pitched the eighth inning and gave up a run of his own to make it a save situation when J.D. Martinez hit a line drive to Orlando in right field allowing Maybin to score from third, easily. Herrera gave up a double to Upton into right center and brought the tying run to the plate. Then there was a wild pitch, so wild that Victor Martinez scored easily from third. Herrera convinced Aybar to ground out to end the inning, but the lead was down to two.

So, of course, the Royals re-extended it in the top of ninth. Raul Mondesi ripped a single into right field off of Jordan Zimmerman to drive in Alex Gordon who had gotten his third hit and second double with one out earlier in the inning.

Wade Davis pitched himself into trouble in the ninth, including a pinch hit ground-rule double by Jose Iglesias who was a late scratch from his start due to grief at the loss of Jose Fernandez. It was a likely a nice emotional release for the fellow Cuban. Wade ultimately collected two strike outs and got a very nice sliding catch from Alex Gordon to prevent the Tigers from scoring again.

Thirteen total pitchers appeared in this game, only four of them managed scoreless appearances. Three of those were Royals, and two of those were 1/3 inning appearances. It wasn't pretty, but it's another win and another series victory.  The Royals were 12-7 against the Tigers this season, including 6-3 in Detroit and knocked the Tigers out their position of leading for the second wild card.

The Royals are two games over .500 and have six remaining as they quest to finish their fourth straight season above .500.  They'll start their final homestand of the year against the Minnesota Twins in Kansas City tomorrow night when Ian Kennedy faces Jose Berrios.