The first inning served as a pretty good sampler of what this game would look like. The Royals managed a pair of weak hits off of Detroit starter Mike Fiers but ultimately couldn’t bring any runners home. In the bottom of the inning Detroit managed a hard-hit double from Leonys Martin and 4 weak-hit groundballs that led to a run when one of them turned into a single. The Royals never led in this game, though for a while they were consistently returning fire to keep themselves in it.
Duffy ultimately pitched 4.2 innings using 101 pitches. Duffy is either the Royals best trade chip or their best hope to lead their next winning rotation, depending on your perspective. Still, he was allowed to throw 101 pitches on short rest. It doesn’t improve matters that those 101 pitches resulted in more runs than innings pitched.
Of course, who can blame Ned Yost for wanting to avoid the bullpen? Tim Hill was called upon to escape the jam Duffy left in the fifth inning but allowed a bunt single to load the bases and than walked home Duffy’s 2 remaining baserunners. Finally, Kevin McCarthy was tagged in and managed to end the inning; he was the only reliever who didn’t see any runs scored during his watch. Blaine Boyer was given the sixth inning and allowed only a single run, a solo shot to JaCoby Jones, and lowered his ERA to 22.50.
Justin Grimm was granted the seventh inning and walked the first two batters he faced on 9 pitches. He flung his eleventh pitch past Drew Butera to send the runners to second and third. Miguel Cabrera brought them both home with a single to left. Nicholas Castellanos hit a ground-rule double to left and Ned mercifully pulled the unfortunate gas can who has been masquerading as a right-handed reliever. Basically, Grimm couldn’t throw his fastball for strikes consistently and his curveball had a tendency to just hang there. The Grimm Reaper now has 9 walks in 7 innings pitched across 9 games; he has allowed 17 runs for a 21.86 ERA. The Royals have 2 relievers with an ERA over 20 a month into the season. That’s not the sort of thing that makes you think they’re going to be remotely competitive.
Burch Smith was asked to clean up Grimm’s mess but allowed a sacrifice fly to Victor Martinez before escaping the inning. He promptly gave up a pair of runs of his own in the eighth inning. It sure looks like the magical bullpen dust that Dayton Moore was using on all of his reliever acquisitions has worn out. Or perhaps it was stolen by Detroit GM Al Avila; the famously terrible Detroit bullpen went 3.2 scoreless innings while allowing only a single hit.
Mike Moustakas and Jorge Soler both extended their hitting streaks. Abraham Almonte got hits in his first three at-bats, today, which gave him four in a row going back to last night. Alcides Escobar had a pair of hits that raised his batting average to .197. The Royals and Tigers combined for 27 hits; the Royals stranded 19 runners while the Tigers stranded an astonishing 23. Every Tigers hitter got at least one hit and drove in or scored at least one run; they also collected 8 walks as a team. The Royals will try to salvage a split tomorrow when they’ll send Eric Skoglund to the mound to face off against Francisco Liriano.