Royals 6, Tigers 5: Verlander ineffective, offense disappears late, Tigers drop second straight one run game

Jamie Squire

The Royals continue to have the Tigers' number. Mike Moustakas took Justin Verlander deep to snap a fifth inning tie and the Royals held on to win their second straight over the Tigers by a 6-5 margin.

Justin Verlander proving to be all too human, the Kansas City Royals rocked the Detroit Tigers ace for six runs in 5 2/3 innings, ultimately holding on to win 6-5. Mike Moustakas' fifth inning solo home run off Verlander would prove to be the difference in the game. The Tigers fall to 9-15 in one run games, while the Royals have a 5-2 record against the first place team in the Central.

Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie wasn't good, but he was better than Verlander, which was enough to earn the victory. Guthrie allowed ten hits and all five Tigers' runs in six innings of work. Four Royals' relievers combined to shut out the Tigers over the final three innings, Greg Holland pitching the ninth for his 24th save.

Unable to get out of the sixth, Verlander (10-7) was knocked around for six runs, five earned, walking four while only striking out three. Al Alburquerque and Drew Smyly held the Royals scoreless, allowing just one hit in 2 1/3 innings of work, but it wasn't enough to make up for Verlander's struggles.

The light-hitting Moustakas did plenty of damage, leading the Royals' offense with three hits, including the game winning home run. Salvador Perez added a double, a sacrifice fly, and three RBIs.

A rare good game for Alex Avila made him the hitting star of the night for the Tigers with three hits and two RBIs. Victor Martinez also had three hits, adding an RBI.

You would think five runs with Justin Verlander on the mound would make for an easy night for the Tigers. A combination of sloppy baseball, Verlander's inability to close out innings and the offense crawling back into its shell after the fifth, "easy" would be the last word you would use to describe the loss. But the game started on a high note...

Guthrie issuing walks Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera woke up the Tigers' offense, triggering a two run first inning rally.

Runners on first and second with one out, Prince Fielder singled to right, the ball dropping in front of a sliding David Lough. Jackson scored, Cabrera holding at second. Victor Martinez followed with another single to right, Cabrera scoring, Fielder rumbling to third

Jhonny Peralta followed with a bouncer to third, Fielder was off on contact. But Mike Moustakas easily fired home to catch Fielder in a rundown, where he was ultimately tagged out. Guthrie would get out of the inning from there when Andy Dirks lined out to first. The slumbering Tigers' bats had risen, two walks and two singles put the Royals in a 2-0 hole.

Verlander pitched himself into trouble in the bottom of the first, walking the lead off man, Alex Gordon. Then the Tigers forgot how to play fundamental baseball.

Verlander threw his pick off attempt into right field, Gordon advancing to second. With one out, Verlander broke the bat of Country Breakfast, but still couldn't retire Billy Butler. Butler continued his ownership of Verlander by looping a single over Peralta and his six inch vertical. Runners on the corners, Salvador Pérez sent a fly to right, but Hunter's throw home was both over the head of the cut-off man and off-line. Gordon scored on the sacrifice fly, Hunter's ill-advised throw allowing Butler to take second.

"He's pitching a little careful, not being aggressive with his stuff." -Jim Leyland on Justin Verlander

It could have been worse, but Peralta was able to stab Lorenzo Cain's line shot to keep the rally from reaching a crooked number. After one full and very sloppily played inning, the Tigers led the Royals 2-1.

The Tigers got the run right back in the top of the second. Slumping (can you really calling it a slump when it's a year and half long?) Alex Avila led off the inning with a line double to left center. Ramon Santiago legged out a high chopper to third, beating Moustakas' low throw for a single. One down, Hunter hit sacrifice fly to deep left to plate Avila, pushing the Tigers' lead to 3-1. Cabrera kept the inning alive with a Twins hit single to right, but Guthrie would get out of the inning without further incident. Cain ran down Fielder's drive to deep left center, keeping the Royals within two runs.

Verlander had retired seven straight after the first inning shenanigans, but a two out single to Eric Hosmer and a walk to Butler set the table for Perez. The Royals' All-Star catcher came through with a liner into the right field corner which Hunter didn't play well at all (essentially his route was _/ shaped), allowing both runners to score. Hunter did hit the relay man this time (well, the second one), which allowed Fielder to throw out Perez trying to stretch his two RBI double into a triple.

The game was tied at 3-all, thanks to Verlander being his own worst enemy.

Verlander's struggles continued in the fourth, the Royals loading the bases on consecutive singles by Cain, Moustakas and Lough. At this point, six straight Royals had reached, the only out coming on the base path. Alcides Escobar hit the ball on the nose, but his line drive was right to Santiago for the first out. Verlander then got the ground ball he needed off the bat of Chris Getz, but it wasn't hit hard enough to turn two. Getz beat Peralta's throw to the bag, Cain scoring on the fielder's choice to give the Royals their first lead at 4-3.

After Getz stole second (because EVERYONE runs on the Tigers), Verlander reloaded the bases. Gordon walked on a full count pitch which could have gone either way. It went against a visibly upset Verlander, loading the bases for Hosmer. Throwing high 90's heat, Verlander went to a full count on Hosmer before walking in the second run of the inning. Worse, it left the bases loaded for Country Breakfast, who owns the Tigers. But Verlander was finally able to get the third out, Butler bouncing to Cabrera to end an ugly inning, the Royals now up 5-3.

At the rate Verlander was going (pitch counts of 21, 8, 23, 32 through four), he wasn't going to pitch deep into the game.

"You'll have to ask him (Verlander) that." -Leyland on what brought on Verlander's lack of aggressiveness

Guthrie wasn't efficient either, his pitch count crossing 90 as the Tigers loaded the bases. Martinez and Peralta on base with two out, Dirks hit a dribbler to Hosmer. What should have been an easy out to end the inning turned into a cluster (it you're a Royals fan) or comedy gold (from the Tigers point of view). Guthrie was late getting off the mound, by the time Hosmer realized he would need to make the play, he lost his footing, Hosmer landed flat on his face as Dirks and Guthrie (who has slowed down on his way to the bag) crashed into each other while crossing first.

Dirks_single_7-20-13_medium

When the dust had settled, Dirks was credited with a single, the bases were loaded and Guthrie had hung his first baseman out to dry. Guthrie's mental error ended up costing him two runs. Avila singled off the glove of a diving Elliot Johnson (who had replaced an injured Chris Getz). The ball rolled into short center, allowing Martinez and Peralta to score, tying the game at 5-all.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, the game did not remain at 5-all for very long.

Two out in the bottom of the fifth, the .215 hitting Moustakas crushed Verlander's 92 MPH fastball, sending a no-doubt solo shot over the wall in right to take the lead right back at 6-5.

"No." -Verlander, when asked if he was pitching too carefully

The Tigers countered in the top of the sixth by having the top of the order go down 1-2-3 on nine pitches.

Verlander was still having trouble putting away the Royals with two outs, ultimately making for his early exit in the sixth. Though, in this case, more sloppy play behind Verlander extended the innings. With two out in the bottom of the sixth, Fielder butchered what should have been an inning ending ground ball, allowing Gordon to reach base on the E-3. Hosmer kept things going by singling to right.

Two on, two out and Jim Leyland knowing Butler kills Verlander, he didn't hesitate to remove his starter and bring on Al Alburquerque. The move paid off, Alburquerque striking out Butler to end the threat (though Butler insisted he fouled the pitch into the dirt).

Guthrie was pulled after six, replaced by lefty Tim Collins. With two out and Martinez on base after a single, Leyland remembered he has Matt Tuiasosopo on the bench. Tuiasosopo was called on to pinch hit for Dirks. Ned Yost countered by bringing in a right-hander, Luke Hochevar, Yost won the strategy battle, Tuiasosopo flew out to end the seventh.

Alburquerque was still on the mound in the bottom of seventh, retiring the first two Royals he faced. but that would be all he would face. The left-handed Moustakas on deck, Leyland went with percentages (.493 OPS against lefties), calling on Drew Smyly. But Moustakas crossed everyone up, bouncing a single through the right side. But Smyly didn't make a mistake against the second lefty, Lough bouncing out to end the inning.

Top of eight, Yost made another pitching change, calling on right-hander Aaron Crow to start the inning. The first two Tigers reached, Avila singling and Don Kelly (pinch hitting for Santiago) walked. Two on and no one out, Jackson was told to bunt (What? NO!). But Crow couldn't throw strikes, Jackson working the count to 3-1. The inability to throw strikes be damned, the sacrifice was left on and Jackson laid one down on hitter's count, moving the runners over.

Yost pulled his infield in, which paid off when Hunter bounced to third, holding the runners. First base open, the Royals elected to pitch to Cabrera. Yost was on a roll with his decision making, proving right once again. Cabrera's late inning struggles continued, bouncing out to third to end the threat.

Bottom of eight, Smyly kept the Tigers within a run, retiring the Royals in order. It would be left to the Tigers' bats to mount a comeback against the Royals closer, Greg Holland.

One down, Martinez missed a home run by a few feet, sending a line drive off the wall, just over the glove of Lough in right. Martinez had to hustle to leg out the two base hit, being he went into a home run trot out of the batter's box.

Peralta popped up to short right for the second out, leaving it up to Tuiasosopo to drive in the pinch runner, Hernan Perez. There would be no late inning heroics tonight, Tuiasosopo grounding out to Moustakas to end the threat, inning and game.

Game over. Your final score is Royals 6, Tigers 5. The Tigers lose their second straight one run game of the series.

BAH.

Not much more to say than, Weeeeeeeeeeeelllllll, this loss blew.

Silver lining time: the Tigers lost, but so did the Indians. Unable to return to the ten games over .500 high water mark, the loss drops the Tigers to 52-44. But their 1 1/2 game lead holding steady, thanks to the Twins taking two straight over Tribe, dropping the Indians' record to 51-46. The Royals are hanging around in third place at six games back,

In the series finale, Doug Fister (7-5, 4.02 ERA) faces the Royals' ace, James Shields (4-6, 3.21 ERA). In his last five starts coming into the break, Fister was either awful (18 runs allowed in 15 1/3 innings over three games) or excellent (three runs total over 13 innings in the other two).. His last start was a good one, allowing one run over six innings in a win over the Rangers. Shields has been a victim of hard luck. He's won just twice in his last 13 outings, but Royals have won eight straight games which Shields has started. First pitch at Kauffman Stadium is set for 2:10 PM.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

The Tigers' fan base has reached their limit when it comes to Alex Avila.

Of course, as if on cue, Avila doubled and would go on to have a 3-for-4 night.

If it seems like Justin Verlander has been laboring through too many 20 plus pitch innings, it's because he has been laboring through too many 20 plus pitch innings.

Verlander's also doubled the number of bases loaded walks he had coming into this season.

Royals second baseman Chris Getz was forced to leave the game in the fifth, as knees aren't supposed to bend this way.

Getz_medium

Luckily, Getz's injury wasn't serious.

Meanwhile, in Houston:

The Astros pulled their starter after 6 1/3 innings, no hits and ten strikeouts. But Bedard had also allowed two runs, walked five and had thrown 103 pitches. Despite not allowing a hit, Bedard would take the loss as the Astros fell to the Mariners 4-2.

Rod Allen acknowledged an advanced fielding metric, causing our own Rob and Patrick to lose their minds.

Thank goodness Rod is moving past fielding percentage as the be all, end all. Defensive metrics aren't perfect, but they are far better than using the fairly meaningless fielding percentage to measure defensive play.

This was Kurt and I on chat after the Tigers didn't score in the eighth.

Me: Bunts.
Kurt: Yep.

They weren't so calm on the social networks.

THREE ROARS:

Alex Avila: A roar for Avila? It's not a typo, Avila had two singles,a double, two RBIs and a run scored.

Victor Martinez: The All-Star break hasn't cooled the Tigers' DH, three hits raising Martinez's average to .260. He was hitting .226 a month ago.

Al Alburquerque and Drew Smyly: Kept the Tigers close after Verlander couldn't hold the lead, allowing only one hit in a combined 2 1/3 innings.

THREE HISSES:

Justin Verlander: Was given the lead, and couldn't hold it. The Tigers tied the game, Verlander served up a home run to untie it. It was not one of Verlander's better performances - 5 2/3 innings, six runs, five earned, eight hits, four walks, and only three strikeouts,

Torii Hunter: Playing right field defense like most other 37 year olds. Badly.

Jim Leyland: Two on and no one out in the eighth, you could argue asking Austin Jackson to bunt was a reasonable call. I wouldn't agree, but some might. But leaving the bunt on after Don Kelly had walked, and the count was 2-0, then 3-1, that you can't argue. Jackson has a 1.750 OPS when the count is 3-1 this season, but was told to bunt anyway. There also the fact if the Royals had wanted to, with first base being open, they could have taken the bat out of Miguel Cabrera's hands and walked him.

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 1,024
Total commenters 47
Commenter list AZBadger03, BadCompany22, BeardedPlayoffJesus19, C5wynn, Cabbylander, Dale S, Emil Sitka, Fielder'sChoice, Grand Rapids Howie, HookSlide, JWurm, J_the_Man, Jacob30, Jake13M, JerseyTigerFan, Joaquin on Sunshine, KGW, Kurt Mensching, MSUDersh, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, Muttcutts, NCDee, RationalSportsFan, RedWingedLigerFan, Rob Rogacki, SabreRoseTiger, SanDiegoMick, Scarsdale_Vibe, Singledigit, Sneechin', SpartanHT, There Can Only Be One Verlander, Tigerdog1, Trout Jefferson, Verlanderful, bobrob2004, dishnet34, dominator039, fiendishdr.wu, frisbeepilot, japobere, keepitcomplicated, knucklescarbone, lithium, mrsunshine, stevenyc, swish330
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/7/20/4541684/game-96-tigers-at-royals-7-10-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/7/20/4542044/game-96-overflow-tigers-at-royals/in/4305721

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 Joaquin on Sunshine 85
2 JWurm 68
3 stevenyc 63
4 BadCompany22 59
5 Jacob30 59
6 Tigerdog1 50
7 Cabbylander 49
8 J_the_Man 46
9 Rob Rogacki 43
10 Michigan&TrumbullinLA 40

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
5 Joaquin on Sunshine That's how you know he's not real.
3 Joaquin on Sunshine [no title]
3 Rob Rogacki OOPS OVERFLOW

GAME 95 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

A lack of run support cost Anibal Sanchez a shot at a win. But allowing just one run over six innings was enough foe Sanchez to get the support of the BYB community, winning PotG with 61% of the vote.

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