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Tigers crush Royal dreams, 7-6

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The Royals don’t just lose, they break hearts.

Baltimore Orioles v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The big story of this game is how the Royals, for the third game in a row, had lots of opportunities to score runs late in the game but mostly failed. The primary difference is that they did finally come through, and it still didn’t matter

Danny Duffy didn’t have his best stuff tonight, and allowed Detroit the early lead when he fired a fastball down the middle to Justin Upton who promptly deposited it over the seats in left center field.

Anibal Sanchez started strong again, but the no hitter only lasted until 2 outs in the second inning this time. Alcides Escobar hit a little liner into right center for a single. Jarrod Dyson flew out to end the inning, though.

The Tigers served up some of the Royals own keep-the-line-moving medicine in the third inning. They scored three runs on a flurry of singles.

The Royals came right back in the bottom of the inning. Raul Mondesi attempted to bunt himself on and reached on an error. Two outs later Eric Hosmer smoked a liner into left center, and then Kendrys Morales duplicated the feat to drive home Mondesi. Salvador Perez took a glancing 1-2 pitch off his elbow guard to load the bases. Gordon ripped a line drive into right field and drove in a pair. Escobar flared out to Kinsler, but the Royals were back in the game.

The question was, "How will Danny Duffy respond after that support, even though he still doesn't have the lead?" The answer was a resounding 1-2-3 inning, his first of the night.

Dyson, inspired by Duffy's return to form, led off the fourth with a single. Then he stole second. Then Mondesi struck out. Then Dyson stole third on a 3-0 pitch to Orlando, causing the Tigers to bring in the infield. Orlando hit a chopper to the mound which Sanchez bobbled, putting men at first and third with one out. But Cuthbert popped into right harmlessly. Hosmer followed that up by, what else, hitting a hard ground ball to Miguel Cabrera who fielded it cleanly and ended the Royal threat.

Cabrera belted a mammoth blast off of a Peter Moylan sinker on the inner edge in the seventh to give the Tigers an insurance run.

Again the Royals came roaring back in the bottom of the inning. Facing Justin Wilson, Paulo Orlando led off with a battling at bat that ended with a seeing-eye single just past Jose Iglesias' outstretched glove. Cuthbert lashed a single into right, then Hosmer smashed a liner of his own into left center which scored Orlando and put Cuthbert, the tying run, at third with no outs. Brad Ausmus went back to his leaky bullpen and brought in Shane Greene to face Morales. He successfully struck out Morales and induced a pop fly into right center from Perez. It was all up to Gordon.

Gordon whiffed on a pair of cutters and then....Hosmer tried to steal second base. McCann faked a throw to second, but Hosmer didn't actually have any intention of stealing the base, he just wanted to draw a throw so that Cuthbert could try to steal home. Hosmer froze a few steps from second and attempted to get into a run down, but Cuthbert just watched the play develop and Hosmer was eventually tagged out trying to get back into first base.

The Royals weren't done with late-inning scoring opportunities, however. Gordon struck out to start the eigth inning, but Escobar and Dyson both had singles. Then Ned finally used his bench, but in a mind-boggling way. Whit Merrifield came in to hit for Mondesi. Slightly slower, right handed and not hitting much better when he was last in the big leagues, Whit hit a deep flyball to center that allowed both runners to advance, which seemed relatively harmless at the time. Ausmus then decicded to ask Francisco Rodriguez to come in and pick up the four-out save. But the first pitch Rodriguez threw was destroyed into right field by Orlando and, because the runners had advanced scored both the tying run and the go-ahead run. The Royals finally had the lead!

On came Wade Davis to terminate the Tigers. Except not. His first pitch hit Kinsler, then Iglesias smashed a grounder just underneath Escobar's glove and Alex ran a very bad route to pick it up and it rolled past him. But Kinsler was held at third and Iglesias had to stop at second. So Cabrera smashed another single underneath Escobar's glove to put the Tigers back in front. Davis got a strikeout and a double play to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.

Given a second chance, Rodriguez struck out Hosmer and Morales. The coup de grace was a weak ground ball from Perez to end the inning and the game.

Notes:

  • J.D. Martinez had a pair of very bad throws from the outfield. He did make a much better throw when Dyson scored the Royals’ final run, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
  • Ned Yost has a greatly expanded bench and Ryan Lefebvre noted that he’d said with all his runners he might pinch run even more often now before the game. He still chose not to use any of his seemingly dozens of pinch runners in a key situation in the bottom of the seventh, even though Cuthbert is very slow, hasn't been playing particularly well lately, and they had two other players who could play third waiting to come in.
  • Duffy was still a bit off, tonight, but recovered and pitched much better than he did against the Red Sox. He also set a new career high in season innings pitched tonight.
  • Best broadcast quote, "That was not a strike." uttered deadpan by Ryan Lefebvre when Salvy swung at a pitch approximately 2 light-years outside of the strike zone in the final at bat of the game.
  • Dillon gee pitched a scoreless eighth inning, no word as of this writing as to whether he will still start as scheduled on Sunday.

The Royals have now lost 3 in a row, they'll look to right the ship tomorrow when Yordano Ventura faces off against Michael Fulmer.