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Two days after being blown out in Boston, the Detroit Tigers did some blowing out of their own in their very next game, crushing the Kansas City Royals 16-2.
Miguel Cabrera, MLB's leading hitter, making only his second start for the Tigers since August 31, walked twice and singled in a run. With the game fully under the Tigers' control, a still gimpy Cabrera took a seat after 4 1/2 innings.
Run support is something Tigers' starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (13-7) is not accustomed to having, the AL leader in ERA (2.61) making the most of it tonight. Sanchez dominated the Royals, allowing just one run and seven hits in seven innings of work.
Royals starter and loser Jame Shields (10-9) had one of the worst starts of his career. Shields was rocked for a career worst tying 14 hits and ten runs in just 3 2/3 innings. The Tigers tacked eighth hits and five runs off Luis Mendoza in 3 1/3 innings of relief.
It would be the bottom of the Tigers' order who would carry the offense. Omar Infante led the carnage in KC with a career night, 5-for-5 with six RBIs. Andy Dirks also had a career game, reaching base six times while going 5-for-5, adding an RBI and four runs scored to the parade around the bases. Even number nine hitter Ramon Santiago added a pair of RBIs. Not to leave the top of the Tigers' order out of the fun, Austin Jackson also had a big game with three hits and four RBI, Prince Fielder chipping in three hits while driving in a run.
The Royals' own Country Breakfast, Billy Butler, drove in a run with a first inning single. Jarrod Dyson added a sacrifice fly in the ninth to account for the Royals' second run. In-between those two scores, the Tigers had 16 runs cross the plate on a season high 26 hits.
The Tigers were destroyed 20-4 Wednesday night, then win their very next game in dominant fashion, 16-2. After being blown out by 16 runs, the Tigers make up almost all of the run differential they lost with a 14 run victory.
Just another example of "you can't explain baseball."
Torri Hunter singled in the first off James Shields, but would move no further. Bottom of one, the Royals would threaten against against Anibal Sanchez, run out of said thread, then run back into another opportunity.
Alex Gordon led off with a double into the left field corner. The Royals did the Tigers a solid, sacrificing him to third. Prince Fielder grabbed Eric Hosmer's high chopper and fired home in an attempt to nail Gordon, uncorking a high throw to Alex Avila. Luckily there wasn't much of a collision, Avila making the tag while Gordon knocked his mask was knocked askew.
Thought Sanchez was out of the inning? If you forgot the Tigers complete and utter incapability to stop the running game, you thought wrong.
Sanchez paid no attention to Hosmer, who immediately took off for second. He got such a huge jump, Avila didn't even bother to throw to second. The stolen base would bite Sanchez on the ass when Tiger Killer Billy Butler bounced an RBI single to center, putting the Royals up 1-nil.
? Why can't they stop runners, even average ones, from stealing 2nd? Why did they pitch to Billy Butler with 1st base open? It's a mystery— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) September 7, 2013
The Tigers versus stolen bases is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Or, they just suck at holding runners close.
Top of two, the Tigers' bottom of the order came through in a big way, giving the Tigers the lead.
Andy Dirks, who has been been getting on base at a .364 clip in the second half, drew a one out walk. The Tigers then pulled off a two strike hit and run, Dirks racing to third on Avila's single to center. Omar Infante, the AL's leader in second base batting average, raised it to .321 with a line single to left to score Dirks.
Ramon Santiago made it four straight tigers to reach base on Shields, his bouncer down the right field line good for a two base hit, Avila crossing the plate to make it 2-1 Tigers. Austin Jackson followed with a looping fly ball which just eluded the grasp of Jarrod Dyson in right center, Infante and Santiago crossing the plate on the two run double, the Tigers now up 4-1 (MLB.com video).
Making only his second appearance since August 30, Miguel Cabrera fought off an inside fastball, looping a two out RBI single into short left, plating Jackson.
Shields' pitch count for the inning pushing 40 and the Royals' bullpen up, Prince Fielder extended the inning with a single to right. The Tigers having batted around, Sheilds would throw high fastballs past Victor Martinez to end a five run Tigers' inning.
Hoping to toss a shutdown bottom of the second, Sanchez allowed a two out single to Dyson. Sanchez actually paid attention to the runner this time around, keenly aware Dyson has stolen 29 bases. After nearly being picked off, Dyson raced around to third when Alcides Escobar snapped a 13 at bat hitless streak with a single to left.
Sanchez got the scoreless inning he wanted when Gordon could not hold up on a 97 MPH eye-level fastball, ending the threat.
Top half of the third, the bottom of the order again kicked up their heels against Shields. Dirks, Avila and Infante led off the inning with back-to-back-to-back singles, loading the bases.
Amazingly, Dirks was caught napping, the Royals picking Dirks off third base. Dirks had committed a base running Cardinal sin.
Darrell Evansed.— MattinToledo (@MattinToledo) September 7, 2013
Dirks' blunder led to a major squandering of a scoring opportunity. Shields completed his Houdini act by striking out Santiago and Jackson to end the inning.
Emilio Bonifacio started the bottom of the third for the Royals by slapping a single to left. Sanchez must have liked what he saw Shields do to Dirks, as he did the same to Bonifacio, easily picking off the leaning runner like a nincompoop. Fielder might not have gotten the tag down quite fast enough, but the ball beat Bonifacio to the bag by so much, the umpire had little choice but to call him out.
Looks like word was relayed in Tigers dugout. Something about holding runners ... something about thumb screws ...— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) September 7, 2013
Shields continued to struggle in the fourth, the Tigers putting him on the ropes. Hunter opened the inning with a line drive double to center, the Tigers' 11th hit, the most Shields had given up in a game this season. Cabrera was pitched around (and Hunter wild pitched to third), Fielder making the Royals pay with a line single to right, pushing the Tigers' lead to 6-1.
The Tigers would load the bases a second time when Dirks bounced a one out single to center. Two down, Infante reached base with his third straight single, the bases remaining loaded as Cabrera scored to make it a 7-1 game.
Royals manager Ned Yost could wait no longer, and finally pulled his ace after 3 2/3 innings, 91 pitches, seven runs and 14 hits. Right-hander Luis Mendonza, who had been warming up on and off for the past three innings, entered the game.
Apparently, all the time Mendoza spent warming up didn't help.
Mendonza went to a full count before making it an 8-1 game by walking Santiago. Jackson made it ten earned runs charged to Shields by ripping a hard single off the glove of a diving Mike Moustakas, both Dirks and Infante scoring (MLB.com video). The single gave Jackson four ribbies on the night.
When the rally finally extinguished on a Hunter strikeout, the Tigers were up 10-1, and had both batted around and hung a five spot on the Royals for the second time in three innings.
GAME OVER, even though there were 5 1/2 inning left to play.
Top of five, Victor Martinez was the last Tigers' starter without a hit. That changed when Martinez's seeing eye high bouncer found center field. Dirks continued his second half surge with his third hit, Moustakas unable to throw him out from deep third. The Royals had to deal with their third bases loaded situation in four innings when Mendoza walked Avila on four pitches.
Infante crushed Mendoza's low 90s fastball to deep left for ... well, it was either a three RBI double or a grand slam. It was originally called a double, but Jim Leyland asked for a replay. After a lengthy delay, replays showed a fan had reached over the wall, touching the ball on it's way down. Ultimately, it was ruled a ground rule double,giving Infante five RBIs on the night.
Regardless, the Tigers were up 13-1 through five, blowing out the Royals after their season was supposedly ended after being blown out themselves by the Red Sox on Wednesday.
So, this baseball thing, kind of fun, hey?— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) September 7, 2013
#Tigers 13, Royals 1. 5th inning. That is a real live score.— MLB (@MLB) September 7, 2013
Funny how fast things can change in baseball.
The Royals waved the white flag in the sixth, with mass substitutions. Predro Ciriaco took over at shortstop, Lorenzo Cain entered as a right fielder, David Lough sliding over to right. There was also an ex-Tiger appearance, Carlos Pena taking over as the first baseman
The Tigers started making moves as well. Don Kelly took over right field, the freed from the shackles of Triple-A Danny Worth playing third. Hunter and Cabrera were given the rest of the evening off.
Mendoza still in the game as the sacrificial arm, the Tigers extended their lead and helped their run differential in the seventh. Three straight singles, capped by Dirks' fourth hit of the night made it a 14-1 massacre.
Infante's big night got that much bigger with his fifth hit, an RBI single increasing the destruction to 15-1. It was also the Tigers' 22nd hit, a season high.
Both benches continued to empty, Matt Tuiasosopo taking over first base for the Tigers in the seventh. In the meantime, after allowing two hits and a run in the first, Sanchez had entered beast mode. The AL ERA leader had not allowed a runner past first base since the second, while scattering five hits over the following six innings.
The Tigers' season high in hits was sky rocketing, Jackson and Donnie Baseball leading of the eighth with back-to-back singles of right-handed reliever Louis Coleman. Jackson's night ended with uber-rookie Nick Castellanos entering the game as a pinch runner. Coleman would get out of the inning with help of a double play, keeping the Royals only 14 runs back.
Damn it! The Tigers should be winning by AT LEAST 15 runs.
Worth made a great defensive play to pick Jamey Carroll's hard hit one-hopper, but injured himself in the process. Carroll was safe with an infield single, as Worth couldn't get up due to the pain. Whatever happened, Worth shook it off an remained in the game. No one needs to get hurt in the late innings of a game already long decided.
Facing Aaron Crow in the ninth, Dirks' ridiculously good game got even better with his fifth hit, a one out double. He would ride home on Avila's double, the 26th and final Tigers' hit of the night putting them up 16-1.
Pitching the bottom of the ninth, Drew Smyly made his first appearance in the month of September. Lough doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Dyson's sacrifice fly.
And that is where the scoring would end.
Your final score is Tigers 16, Royals 2. The bad loss to the Red Sox doesn't seem so bad after all, does it?
With an 82-59 record (.589), the Tigers stand as follows. Their lead in the Central holds steady at 6 1/2 games. They remain three games behind the 86-57 (.601) Red Sox for the AL's best record and home field through the playoffs. The Magic Number is down to 16 with a mere 21 games remaining in the regular season.
Saturday's game two features Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA) taking on young lefty Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.35 ERA). Duffy's last start against the Tigers was only his second after returning from Tommy John surgery. Duffy dominated the opener of the infamous doubleheader where the Tigers scored just one run, shutting out the Tigers on one hit over six innings. The inconsistent Verlander is coming off one of his best starts of the season, firing seven scoreless innings while striking out six against Cleveland, earning a no-decision. First pitch at Kauffman Stadium is 7:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Eric Hosmer's first inning stolen base was the 24th straight allowed by the Tigers.
Leyland saying before game Royals' speed rarely has been a factor in games against Detroit. Hosmer steals 2B in first. Shields up, 1-0.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) September 7, 2013
Unable to throw anyone out, the Tigers took the Royals out of their small ball strategy by scoring lots and lots and lots of runs. The Royals didn't do much on the base paths when they were down double digits runs.
Meanwhile, in the Tigers' radio booth:
"tigers breast health tote bag" says Jim Price.— Harold Reynolds (@catswithbats) September 7, 2013
#TOOTBLAN apply to getting picked off third, with the bases loaded and no outs?— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) September 7, 2013
...but yes it is! Andy Dirks getting picked off is a TOOTBLAN. Official TOOTBLAN rules follow:
"In short, it is any out a runner makes on the base paths while attempting to take an extra base - whether advancing from second to third on a ground out (with no runner on first); attempting to stretch a single into a double, a double into a triple, and so on; or getting thrown out while advancing on a fly ball. It also applies to base runners who are picked off or who are doubled out on a line drive."
Not a good night for James Shields. Ten earned runs raised his ERA from 3.03 to 3.43. He also tied a pair of career worsts - He's allowed 14 hits once before, against the Tigers in June 2012. The ten runs also tied a career worst, happening three times as a Ray.
Meanwhile, back in the Tigers' radio booth:
To Price, taking Putkonen over Alburquerque in the playoffs is a no brainer.— Harold Reynolds (@catswithbats) September 7, 2013
You know, Jim Price does know the Art of Pitching. I'm not going to argue with him.
I think it's good policy to end a laffer with a laugh!
Crying. pic.twitter.com/ck0o3594Vr— Corey Douglass (@TheMrDouglass) September 7, 2013
Anibal Sanchez: After giving up seven runs combined in his last two starts, Sanchez gets back on track with a one run outing. He lowered his league leading ERA to 2.61 in the process.
Omar Infante: Had his second five plus RBI game in less than a week. Six RBIs and five hits are both career highs.
Andy Dirks: Five hits made everyone forget Dirks was picked off third base, raising his second half batting average to .313.
Austin Jackson: Not to let the bottom of the order guys have all the fun, the Tigers' lead off man had a big game with three hits, four RBIs and two runs scored.
Bottom of the order: Six through nine in the order reached base 17 times, combining on a 14-20, ten RBI, eight runs scored, three walk night.
Media and fan DOOOOM-sayers after Wednesday night's loss: It was just one game, which is what the Royals are saying tonight.
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
The Tigers were smoked by an unimaginable margin Wednesday, no players were deemed deserving of anything remotely close to PotG. In a night where EVERYTHING went wrong, BYB went with FSD play-by-play man Mario Impemba, who was forced to call an inning over the phone when broadcast audio went AWOL.