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Detroit solo shots too much for Kansas City in 6-4 loss

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Glenn Sparkman struggles again

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Glenn Sparkman logged another rough outing, giving up three solo shots in the 4th that propelled the Tigers to a 6-4 win over the Royals Thursday afternoon. Detroit avoided the sweep with the win and snapped Kansas City’s four-game winning streak.

The Royals jumped ahead in the 2nd, thanks to some big two-out hits. With Cheslor Cuthbert on first, Nick Dini extended the inning with a double. Both were driven in on a looping single to right by Whit Merrifield, giving the Royals a 2-0 lead. Adalberto Mondesi quickly made it a 3-0 game, lacing Matthew Boyd’s next pitch down the left-field line to drive in Merrifield.

However, that lead wouldn’t last long. The Tigers got a two-out RBI of their own in the 3rd to make it a 3-1 game, but did their real damage in the 4th with three solo home runs against Royals starter Glenn Sparkman.

Sparkman has been the worst pitcher in baseball since July 1 by a pretty wide margin, with Boyd being the 7th worst during that span. However, during that same period, Boyd had given up a league-high 19 homers compared to only 14 by Sparkman entering today. Sparkman is back in that race after today’s performance, which lasted just four innings.

The quick outing put the Royals bullpen in a tight spot. Heath Filmyer gave Kansas City a clean inning in the 5th and was replaced by Josh Staumont in the 6th, who ran into trouble. After a walk and an error put runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out, Grayson Greiner grounded a ball to Cuthbert at third and got Brandon Dixon into a rundown. He was able to stay in the rundown long enough to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd, however, and both scored on a flair single from Willi Castro to boost the Tiger lead to 6-3.

One notable event on the afternoon came in the 7th, when Babe Speier made his major league debut. Speier, a 24-year-old left-hander from Santa Barbara, California, was originally drafted by the Red Sox in 2013 and acquired by Kansas City last season in the Jon Jay trade. He struck out two Tigers in a clean inning of work.

While Sparkman and the Royals bullpen struggled, Matthew Boyd was successfully walking a tightrope for 6+ innings. Kansas City collected nine hits across Boyd’s first 6.1 frames, but left 11 men on base during that span. After Dini led off the 7th with the Royals 10th hit, Jose Cisnero replaced Boyd with Merrifield coming to the plate. Cisnero promptly got Merrifield and Mondesi to strikeout, ending the threat.

Another cool moment for the Kansas City bullpen came in the 8th, with Jesse Hahn making his first Major League appearance since 2017. He missed much of 2017 and all of 2018 with an ulnar collateral ligament injury, but avoided Tommy John surgery by opting for a new UCL-repair procedure.

Hahn was acquired by the Royals in January of 2018 in exchange for Brandon Moss. Like Speier, Hahn looked sharp, striking out two of the three batters he faced and topping out at 97 MPH.

Kansas City added a run in the 8th on a fielders choice from Cheslor Cuthbert to make it a 6-4 game. That brought Bubba Starling to the plate, representing the tying run, but he grounded into a force out to end the inning. The Royals brought Jorge Soler to the plate in the 9th representing the winning run, and a Mondesi stolen base put the tying run in scoring position. However, an ugly three-pitch strikeout capped off by Soler’s bat flying over the third-base dugout ended the game.

The loss ended the Royals four-game winning streak just one game shy of a new season-high. It was also their 90th loss of the season, marking the 5th time they have reached 90 losses since 2010.

Up Next: Royals at Marlins, September 6, 2019, 7:10 PM EDT, Marlins Park. RHP Jorge Lopez (2-7, 6.61 ERA) v. Pablo Lopez (5-7, 4.89 ERA)