For six innings this was among the most boring games the Royals have played all season. Neither pitcher was astonishing, but neither team was doing much on offense. Justin Upton hit a hanging curve for an RBI double to give the Tigers a lead in the second, Alcides Escobar hit a solo shot tying his career high in home runs to tie it in the third, and J.D. Martinez launched a mammoth blast in the fourth to put the Tigers back in front.
Daniel Norris, as previously noted, didn't pitch super well. But he was throwing lots of fastballs around the top of the strike zone, sometimes above. And the Royals were swinging wildly at all of them, mostly missing. One exception was when Salvador Perez struck out looking on a very high fastball. This became interesting the next inning when a very similar pitch to Ian Kinsler was called a ball. Salvy actually took his mask off, turned around and argued with home plate umpire Chris Conroy about it. It went on so long that it was honestly a bit surprising he didn't get tossed.
In the top of the seventh doubles by Tyler Collins and Andrew Romine sandwiched around a James McCann flyout and followed by an Ian Kinsler line drive single into left center scored a pair more and put the Tigers well ahead. It looked like the best that could be said of this game was at least it wasn't one of those heart breaking losses that the Royals should have won that they have specialized in, lately.
The spirit of Buddy Bell haunts my thoughts.
In the seventh the offense woke up; Eric Hosmer finally laid off those high fastballs and took a walk. Morales got a fastball right down the middle and shot a grounder into left field to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of Salvador Perez. Ausmus didn't want Salvy seeing a lefty in the late innings so he yanked his starter in favor of right-handed reliever Alex Wilson.
Salvy got to 3-0, then started swinging at everything including a couple that may have been ball four before finally giving in and taking a walk to load the bases. Up came Two-Hit Whit Merrifield, looking to leverage his name. He didn't get a hit, but he did get a sac fly. Collins made bad decision and heaved it all the way to third, allowing Perez to advance as well as Morales. Runners at second and third with one out for Escobar.
Esky hit a liner toward right field, but also right at Cabrera. Jarrod Dyson was the Royals' last hope. Dyson took a 3-0 pitch but Chris Conroy called yet another questionable strike, causing Royal fans everywhere to scream in outrage. Moments later they were cheering in ecstasy as Dyson smashed a groundball just inside the line that Cabrera couldn't handle that became a two-run triple to tie the game. Alex Gordon was asked to pinch hit for Mondesi, so the Tigers made the easy decision to intentionally walk Gordon and face Orlando. And Orlando promptly ripped a single into left field for an RBI double to give the Royals the lead. Ausmus went back to the pen and Shane Greene successfully retired Cheslor Cuthbert to end the Royal threat.
Just two nights ago Orlando gave the Royals a one-run lead late in the game with a two-RBI single. If you remember what happened next you may not need to keep reading.
Joakim Soria came on to pitch the eighth with Wade Davis unavailable. He allowed a lead off single to Cabrera but got the Martinez brothers to hit pop flies shallow in the outfield. Then he fired a fastball low and inside to Upton, who somehow got underneath and behind it. It was not a bad pitch, but Upton was somehow strong enough to hit it the opposite way and into a crosswind but still over the fence to give the Tigers back the lead.
Chris Young had a mostly clean ninth inning, he allowed a hit to Kinsler but picked him off and struck out a pair. So that was good to see.
Francisco Rodriguez would have to face the bottom of the Royals order to finish off the series victory. They showed a replay of Esky's home run and Rex said, "He probably won't get a cookie like that again!" So, of course, he did. He smacked a double into right center. Dyson, after taking two pitches that almost hit him while trying to bunt, swung away at a fastball down the middle and just missed hitting a walk off home run be less than 10 feet foul. He did broke his bat on the next pitch hitting a grounder to the right side and advanced Escobar to third with only one out. Gordon flailed hopelessly at a change up down and away before ripping a groundball....right at Kinsler. Esky had to stay, even when Kinsler bobbled it slightly. Paulo Orlando represented the last chance for the Royals. He hit another ground ball to Romine to end the game.
The Royals have now lost four heart breaking games in their last five. In an alternate universe they're on a seven game winning streak after sweeping the home series, but this is not that universe. #TeamYoyo12345, along with the Royals’ playoff hopes, are on life support.