In his first 2 starts, Max was solid with a .238/.273/.429 opponent batting line with the bases empty. But he was a disaster at .500/.571/.750 allowed with men on. Tonight the trend continued as he looked much more comfortable throwing from the windup. Scherzer retired the first 7 Royals while throwing 74% strikes. But after the 8-hitter Maier reached on a walk his difficulties with baserunners in place continued. Escobar, who averages a homerun every 136 ABs, homered on a slider that didn't slide for 2 KC runs. After a Butler single in the 4th, 2 of the next 3 Royal batters got hits to give KC a 3-1 lead. Max escaped the inning with runners at 2nd and 3rd when Brian Knight called out Maier on a marginal pitch. Knight, a pitcher's ump, oversaw a 2.56 K/BB ratio last year which was well above the 2.25 AL average. For the game, KC was 3-for-15 against Scherzer with nobody on and 4-for-8 with men aboard. Max allowed 2 hits in the 5th but survived after he picked Gordon off second and allowed another Butler single in the 6th that was erased by a double play. After Scherzer hit the leadoff man in the 7th, Coke entered and retired the next 3 to preserve Max's quality start.
Sanchez is not easy to square up and he allowed just a .220 BAA in 2011. But that was offset by the highest walk rate in MLB. Only 2 of the first 20 Tiger batters managed hits, both singles, but one by Peralta scored a 2nd inning run following a walk and steal by Raburn. The Tigers had a bases-loaded no out chance in the 4th. But after getting ahead at 3-1, Peralta lined softly to short. The light lumber, as Inge and Laird are known, was no match for Sanchez who easily completed the Houdini. The heavy lumber, however, cut the KC lead to 3-2 when Cabrera singled and Fielder doubled in the 5th. Laird redeemed himself with a leadoff single in the 7th on an offspeed pitch from triple-digit-specialist Herrera. That allowed Cabrera to single him to third with 2 outs and then score on a short wild pitch. Despite being a catcher, Laird ranked as one of the top Tiger baserunners in 2009-10. Fielder delivered Cabrera with the go-ahead run on a single up the middle. Prince is now 4-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Benoit entered with the lead in the 8th and walked the leadoff man for the 3rd time in his 6 opportunities. Last year he faced 52 leadoff men and walked zero. But after a second walk in the inning he induced a 4-6-3 DP from Francoeur to set up a save chance for Valverde. Jose struggled as well. But after a walk and a hit with one out, Cabrera started a 5-3 DP to end it. The Tigers improved to 4-0 in 1-run games. Their AL best 29-17 in those contests last year was a big reason for their disrespect of Pythagoras.