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Royals edge Tigers 3-1, stretch win streak to seven

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Seven in a row!

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If it feels like you’ve seen Michael Fulmer a bunch recently, you would be correct. Tonight marks the third time in less than a month that the Royals have faced him. The last time they faced him was July 20 at Kauffman Stadium, where Kansas City turned him into Michael Empty-mer for a day by tagging him for eight runs in less than three innings.

For one batter, it would seem that the Royals would continue that scoring spree. Whit Merrifield hit his second career leadoff home run on the first pitch of the game, immediately giving the Royals a 1-0 lead.

But, luckily for the Tigers, Fulmer bounced back. He completed eight solid innings, pitching efficiently and accruing six strikeouts whilst yielding no walks. Kansas City only challenged him in one inning, the fourth. After Jorge Bonifacio’s leadoff single, Lorenzo Cain chopped a grounder to shortstop that was too slow to turn into a double play. An Eric Hosmer single scored Bonifacio.

After that, the Hosmer Baserunning Show became the featured attraction. Sometimes (well, most of the time), the Hosmer Baserunning Show ends with a boneheaded play or an overly aggressive out trying to stretch something that is inflexible. But Hosmer’s fourth inning shenanigans worked out quite well. Salvador Perez booped a slow-rolling grounder barely into the outfield, and Hosmer challenged a charging Justin Upton in a bid for a first-to-third dash, a bid Upton could not deny. Then, Mike Moustakas struck a fly ball to shallow left field. Hosmer tagged and sprinted home, and while Upton’s throw was true, catcher James McCann was unable to handle the ball cleanly. They left their half of inning with a 3-0 lead.

The Tigers clawed at Royals starter Danny Duffy and the Royals bullpen, but were unable to land much beyond a surface scratch. Detroit responded to the Royals’ duo of runs immediately in the bottom half of the inning through the fleet feet of Mikie Mahtook, who with two outs crushed a ball to left-center field and legged out a triple. Victor Martinez walked and James McCann singled to score Mahtook, but Duffy managed to grab the third out and squirm out of the inning with minimal damage.

Duffy was good, pitching 6.1 innings, striking out four, walking only one, and allowing six hits. The defense, though, was excellent, and included a diving Alex Gordon catch as he blew a bubble.

More important was an excellent double play in the bottom of the eighth inning. Upton and Miguel Cabrera managed two softly-hit singles against Joakim Soria, who also induced a weak contact grounder from Mahtook that would have been a double play if it were hit a little harder.

With Upton at third and Mahtook at first, Victor Martinez cracked a deep line drive that Bonifacio snagged due to some excellent positioning. Off the bat, all three Tigers thought it was a double, and they advanced accordingly. As Bonifacio caught the ball, Upton scrambled back to third base to tag. Mahtook was further, and Bonifacio smartly rifled the ball to first base in an attempt to double him up. Hosmer stretched the full length of his 6’ 4” height to grab the throw and complete the double play.

Kelvin Herrera stepped to the mound for the ninth inning and completed the game without issue. Herrera, along with Soria and Peter Moylan, helped bring the bullpen’s scoreless innings streak to 27.

Salvador Perez did leave the game partway through, due to “right side tightness,” and he is day-to-day. Kansas City finishes their series against Detroit tomorrow, then enjoys an off day on Thursday before traveling to Boston this weekend.