Royals 2, Tigers 1: Danny Duffy carries no-hitter into the sixth, Justin Verlander victimized by a lack of run support

Leon Halip

In game one of a twin bill, the Tigers' bats disappeared. Danny Duffy allowed just one hit over six innings, 5 2/3 of those the no-hit variety. Justin Verlander took a hard luck loss, but saved the Tigers' bullpen with eight innings of work.

In the first game of a day-night double header, Kansas City Royals' left-hander Danny Duffy took a no-hitter into the sixth, paving the way for a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Duffy's no-hit bid was derailed by Miguel Cabrera's single with two out the sixth, and was credited with 5 2./3 no-hit innings.

Duffy, battling with his command, needed 96 pitches to complete six full innings. But what a six innings they were, allowing just one hit, walking three, striking out three, allowing just one Tiger to reach second base. The Royals would use four pitchers total, Greg Holland wrapping up ninth for his 33rd save.

In a pitcher's duel, you would normally expect Justin Verlander to come out on top. Not today. With a double header on tap, the Tigers needed Verlander to pitch well. He did, saving the Tigers' bullpen with eight innings of work, giving up just two runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out six.

What little Royals' offense there was came from the middle of the order. Eric Hosmer and Emilio Bonifacio each drove in a run. Billy Butler continued his dominance over Verlander with two hits and a walk. The lone Tigers' run came off one swing of Ramon Santiago's bat with a pinch-hit solo home run in the eighth off Aaron Crow.

What is there to say when the Tigers are nearly no-hit by a good young lefty battling a lack of command? "That's baseball" comes to mind. The Tigers will have to turn the tables in the nightcap, hoping their spot-starter, Mud Hens' lefty Jose Alverez, can out pitch Royals' ace James Shields.

Justin Verlander's first inning meant Tiger Killer Billy Butler would reach base. Because, baseball. Verlander retired the first two Royals easily. Verlander pitched Country Breakfast carefully, but Butler ripped a 3-2, mid-90s fastball to left for a single. Butler is now a ridiculous 26-for-60 (.433) against Verlander.

The game then reverted back to normal. Alex Gordon bounced out to second, ending the inning. Baseball, as always, remains a funny game.

Royals starter Danny Duffy is known for command issues. He threw 93 pitches in less than four innings in previous start. The trend continued in the bottom of the first against the Tigers. Duffy's first six pitches were out of the strike zone. After Duffy walked Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter bailed him out by fishing on a 2-1 change up out of the zone, bouncing into a 6-4-3 double play.

After getting ahead in the count 0-2, Duffy walked a very patient Miguel Cabrera. But Eric Hosmer laid out to take a single away from Fielder, converting a hard one-hopper into a 3-1 ground out. Despite walking a pair, Duffy got out of the inning on 20 pitches.

Justin Maxwell opened the second with a hard one-hopper Jose Iglesias knocked down (and got knocked over himself), but was unable to recover. Maxwell was credited with an infield single.  Verlander still faced the minimum in the inning, thanks to catching Maxwell leaning, picking him off to end the inning.

What was more shocking than Verlander picking off a base runner was Duffy having the same pitch count. Duffy's 1-2-3 second left both starters with a pitch count of 28 after two full innings.

"This was major league pitching at its best." -Jim Leyland, gushing over the pitcher's duel

The top of the third was a Jose Iglesias defensive highlight reel. for the Tuiasosopo unlikely to play the play, Iglesias covered a remarkable amount of ground for the first out of the inning, running down Alcides Escobar's pop fly to short left. Two out, Chris Getz sent a bouncer up the middle, Iglesias pulling off a Barry Sanders-esque spin move, then throwing out the runner, ending the inning.

Duffy's lack of command got him into trouble in the top of the third, a pair of Tigers reaching base without benefit of a hit.

Leading off and threatening to bunt, Duffy DRILLED Iglesias in the nether regions, the Tigers' shortstop stumbling halfway to first before curling up. After taking sufficient time to recover, Iglesias was able to gingerly take his base (click pic for painful GIF).

Iglesias_hbp_8-16-13_medium

Two down, Hunter worked a base on balls, setting up Cabrera with a runner in scoring position. Duffy was able to get up two quick strikes on Cabrera before baseball's best hitter grounded out to end the threat.

The missed opportunities came back to bite the Tigers, the Royals striking first in the top of the fourth.

Leading off the inning, Hosmer took Verlander's 1-1 hanger the opposite way, sending a fly ball over the bullpens in left. Hosmer's 13th home run of the season put the Royals up 1-0. Verlander got out of the inning without further incident, and was still pitching more than well enough to give the Tigers a victory ... if the offense woke up.

Through four innings, the Royals were holding a 1-0 lead, thanks to Duffy being just wild enough to be effective. Despite a pitch count of 64, walking three and striking out only two, Duffy had yet to allow a base hit.

Verlander walked the lead off man in the fifth, .218 hitting Emilio Bonifacio. The newest Royal then caught the Tigers sleeping, pulling off a delayed steal of second, their fourth stolen base of the series. Verlander would pitch out of the manufactured jam, stranding Bonifacio at third on Jarrod Dyson's inning ending fly out.

But Verlander was taking a back seat to Danny Duffy, who was erratic, but effective.

Duffy's no-hitter remained in play after five, once again setting the Tigers' down in order. Though Iglesias helped, striking out on a pair of pitches well out of the zone. A little luck also came into play, Bryan Holaday's hard hit line drive hanging up long enough for Maxwell to make the inning ending catch.

One thing the Royals had to keep in mind was Duffy's pitch count of 79 pitches. How deep into the game would they allow their surgically repaired starter to go?

Duffy took his no-no into the sixth, dodging a bullet with one out. Dyson was playing extremely shallow in center, allowing him to flag down Hunter's line drive. But Duffy still had to face Cabrera. That's where the no-hit drama ended. Cabrera drilled a line drive off the glove of a diving Bonifacio, and was correctly scored a base hit. Fileder bounced out weakly to short, ending the inning.

Duffy may have had a one-hitter through six, but his pitch count was 96. Duffy's day was likely over, amd the Royals had their bullpen up.

The Tigers were unable to muster any kind of offense, but the Royals could, extending their lead in the seventh. Verlander gave up back-to-back doubles to Maxwell and Bonifacio, the Royals taking a 2-0 advantage. The Tigers actually caught a break on Bonifacio's hit, as the ball wedged under the padding in the right field corner. Rather than try to yank the ball out, Hunter smartly held  up his hands. The speedy Bonifacio would have had an easy triple, instead the umpires correctly ruling it a ground rule double.

While Phil Coke and Al Albuquerque (the "White flag twins" according the game thread) were warming up, Verlander proceeded to pitch out of further trouble. but to avoid being tagged with his ninth loss, he would need the Tigers' offense to WAKE UP.

As expected, the no-hitter off the table, Royals' manager Ned Yost pulled Duffy after six. On the mound to start the bottom of the seventh was right-hander Kelvin Herrera. He immediately vcaught a break. Herrera was unable to glove Victor Martinez's comebacker, but Escobar was able to reverse direction, glove the ball and throw Martinez out from his knees.

As if we needed a reminder, it had long become one of THOSE games.

Herrera struck out both Andy Dirks, pinch hitting for Tuiasosopo, and Omar Infante to end the inning. After seven full innings, the Tigers had just one hit and zero runs. Why? Because baseball.

With three games remaining in the series and another game tonight, Jim Leyland was hoping to get a complete game out of Verlander. His pitch count at 104 entering the eighth, there was a chance. But, Billy Butler. After two were down, Butler worked a walk after falling behind in the count 0-2. Gordon extended the inning with a single to right, Country Breakfast lumbering to third.

"He saved us, he literally saved us." -Leyland, on Justin Verlander pitching eight innings with a short bullpen

Coke and Albuquerque were both ready to go, but instead of Leyland coming to the mound, it was pitching coach Jeff Jones. Allowed to remain in the game, after receiving advice in regard to wedding gifts, Verlander finished off the inning, Maxwell sending a can of corn to right.

Verlander's pitch count was 124, meaning his game was over. Verlander received an ovation from Tigers fans who had precious little to cheer about in game one of the double header.

Fans would finally have reason to cheer in the bottom of the eighth, thanks to some "sneaky power."

Right-hander Aaron Crow taking over on the mound for the Royals, Leyland countered with switch-hitting Ramon Santiago, pinch-hitting for Iglesias. The .211 hitting Santiago yanked the first pitch he saw over the right field wall, a "You can't predict baseball" kind of moment. Santiago's first big fly of the season (and first career pinch-hit home run) pulled the Tigers within a run at 2-1. Crow would proceed to give up a couple of hard hit balls, but retired the next three Tigers in order.

Top of nine and the Royals clinging to a 2-1 lead, It would be up to (GULP) Coke and Albuquerque to keep it a run one game.

They did the job. Coke retiring Bonifacio on a ground ball, Albuquerque getting pinch-hitter Salvador Perez to fly out, and ending the ninth by striking out Escobar.

Down a run, the Tigers' middle of the order would one more shot against Royals' closer Greg Holland. Unable to hold up on a pair of sinking breaking ball, Cabrera struck out on four pitches. Holland then put the tying run on, walking Fielder.  But there would be no walk off dramatics (not that there have been many, just two in 2013) today, Martinez bouncing into an easy, game ending 4-6-3 double play.

Game over. Thank goodness, as this was one of more excruciating games to watch this season. Your final score is Royals 2, Tigers 1.

The loss drops the Tigers' record to 71-50, their lead over the Indians and Royals falling to six and 7 1/2 games, respectively. The Tribe are out on the West Coast, playing the Athletics late tonight.

What looked like a match up in the Tigers' favor, Duffy against Verlander, wasn't. Let's hope the nightcap, which looks like it should lean heavily in the Royals' favor (James Shields versus Jose Alerez), isn't.

Game two of the twin bill has the Royals' ace, Shields (7-8, 3.33 ERA), taking Mud Hens' lefty Alverez. On August 6, Shields had his worst start of the season in a loss to the Twins, giving up seven runs and eight hits over six innings. He bounced back to beat the Red Sox, allowing just two runs over seven innings. Alverez is being called up for a third time this season from a Triple-A Toledo, this time for a one shot spot start. Alverez is 1-2, 5.03 in four games for the Tigers. The night half of the doubleheader is scheduled for a 7:08 first pitch.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

BULLETS:

The Tigers entered today's twin bill playing .731 in the second half and .667 for the season at home. The 12 game win streak may have ended, but there's another streak still alive. Well, the streak was alive until 4 PM this afternoon.

Justin Verlander picked Justin Maxwell off first base to end the second. Verlander picking someone off is rare, but not as rare as you might believe.

Jose Iglesias suffered one of the more painful hit by pitches you'll ever see in the third.

Iglesias_medium

Understandably, Iglesias laid on the turf for some time before taking his base. I'm STILL wincing just thinking about it.

Always on the job, the Tigers' store had the ball up for sale in the next half inning.

The no-hitter alerts started popping up in the fifth. The last time the Tigers were no-hit was back in the sepia toned days of 1990 2010. Randy Johnson, then of the Mariners, no-hit the Tigers on June 2, 1990. Johnson walked six, struck out eight and needed 138 pitches. Matt Garza of the Rays walked one, striking out six on July 26, 2010.

Miguel Cabrera took care of the no-hitter alerts, singling with two down in the sixth. Really, who else could it have been?

Ramon Santiago's home run was his first in more than a year. He last went yard on June 9, 2012.

Something for us all to remember...

Post game, Leyland let the status of the back end of the bullpen be known. As expected, Joaquin Benoit will not pitch at all today. But Jose Veras and Drew Smyly are available for the night cap.

TWO ROARS:

Justin Verlander: Deserved better. Verlander both saved the bullpen by tossing eight full innings and held the the Royas to just two runs and seven hits.

Ramon Santiago: The only offense of the game was supplied by the light-hitting Santiago's solo home run.

THREE HISSES:

Tigers' offense: Just two hits and four walks. Considering how wild Duffy was early on, the Tigers let him off the hook in the first few innings with some ill-advised swings.

Country Breakfast: Reached base three time against Verlander with two hits and a walk .Who does Billy Butler think he is, Don Kelly against Justin Masterson?

Tigers' offense: Two hits? REALLY?

ROLL CALL:

Roll Call Info
Total comments 859
Total commenters 50
Commenter list AAnth, Alex Baker, BadCompany22, Bent82, BigAl, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, Designated for Assignment, Fielder'sChoice, Grzesio, H2OPoloPunk, HaynerJ47, Honeyman, HookSlide, House by the Side of the Road, JJMcEazy, JWurm, J_the_Man, JoeLisboa, KeepItCopacetic, Keith-Allen, Kurt Mensching, Lukas M, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, NCDee, Parisian Tiger, RealityIsOptionable, RedWingedLigerFan, Rob Rogacki, SanDiegoMick, ShowingBunt, Singledigit, SpartanHT, There Can Only Be One Verlander, TomduhB, XFizzle, dishnet34, jcbeckman, jixah, johnmoz, kland83, knucklescarbone, lesmanalim, melliemacker, rbbaker, redwingxviii, stevenyc, swish330, texastigerfan, welcome to good burger
Story URLs http://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/16/4627674/game-121-royals-at-tigers-1-08-p-mhttp://www.blessyouboys.com/2013/8/16/4628736/game-121-overflow-royals-at-tigers

TOP TEN COMMENTERS:

# Commenter # Comments
1 JJMcEazy 92
2 SanDiegoMick 90
3 RedWingedLigerFan 86
4 texastigerfan 67
5 SpartanHT 59
6 swish330 45
7 stevenyc 36
8 DJ Screw 33
9 There Can Only Be One Verlander 32
10 rbbaker 32

TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
5 stevenyc Two's company, three's a crowd.
3 johnmoz .
3 There Can Only Be One Verlander Oh. I thought it was going to be a different ball
2 rbbaker Thoughts: JV shaves after each start
2 NCDee Looks like he's opening a pawn shop.

GAME120 PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Anibal Sanchez recovered from a 30 pitch first inning to earn the victory by pitching into the eighth, holding the Royals to one run and seven hits. Sanchez took the PotG balloting with 55% of the vote.

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