Detroit extended their lead in the AL Central to 4 1/2 games over the now in second place Twins. The Royals' fourth straight loss dropped then two places in the division standings, percentage points behind the White Sox in fourth place, five games back.
The Tigers offense terrorized Royals' pitching over the entire series. Every Tiger in the starting lineup had at least one base hit in every game in Kansas City. The Tigers scored no fewer than eight runs in each win, ending the three games against the Royals with 26 runs and 42 hits.
A dominant Justin Verlander (4-1) had the no-hit alerts ready to go, holding the Royals to just three walks through five innings. But Billy Butler remained Verlander's krytonite, ending the no-hit bid with a two out single in the sixth. The Tigers' ace was forced to settle for his fourth win of the season, allowing four hits and three runs, striking out seven and walking four over seven innings.
The regression monster has caught up with Jason Vargas (2-1). After five starts in 2014, he owned a 1.54 ERA and had yet to give up more than two runs in an appearance. Unfortunately for the Royals, he's fallen back to earth, allowing 12 runs in his last two starts covering 11 1/3 innings. Today, Vargas was charged with his first loss of the season, serving up seven runs and 11 hits in just five innings of work. Vargas' ERA is now a more realistic 3.50 (career 4.22).
Detroit pounded four Royals' pitchers for 16 hits. Torii Hunter led the abuse with three hits and three RBIs. Rajai Davis also had three hits, adding three runs scored and two stolen bases. Even light-hitting Andrew Romine got into the act, chipping in with three singles and two runs.
The Tigers hit the long ball as well, Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila both going yard. Miguel Cabrera had just one hit, but added a two RBIs on what was a very productive afternoon for the Tigers' bats.
Completely out-gunned on offense, the Royals had just five hits on the afternoon. Jarrod Dyson had the one big hit for the Royals, a two run double. Butler singled and doubled, the only Royal with more than one base hit.
Weird stat line of the day belonged to the Royals' Norichika Aoki: Five plate appearances, 1-for-1 with an RBI. Aoki walked three times, adding a sacrifice fly and a ninth inning RBI single.
The Tigers wrap up an extremely successful 6-1 road trip with sweeps of their division rivals, the White Sox and Royals. White hot having won five in a row and 11 of 15, the Tigers head back to Detroit with a 17-9 record, .654 win percentage and seven games on tap against the under .500 Astros (10-20) and Twins (14-15).
Batting second, Ian Kinsler didn't let Saturday's multiple TOOTBLAN's bother him. He lined a Justin Vargas fastball into the left field corner for a two base hit. Two down, the unstoppable Victor Martinez lined a single to left. Kinsler had thoughts of running on Alex Gordon's arm, but skidded to a stop after having second thoughts and seeing the stop sign of Dave Clark
Five. It normally would have been a TOOTBLAN waiting to happen, but Gordon's throw flew the cut off man and was up the line. Kinsler would have had a good chance of scoring, go figure.
Torii Hunter managed to finagle a full count after falling behind 0-2. But a long at bat didn't end with a Tigers lead. Hunter bounced to third on Vargas' 28th pitch of the inning, ending the threat.
Score that - TTBDNS. At least the Tigers made Vargas work hard.
Nick Castellanos refuses to be left out of the AL Rookie of the Year conversation. Top of the second, Castellanos got an "I see ya, Nicholas Castellanos" from Rod Allen when he smashed a Vargas fastball into the seats in left. The one out solo shot was Castellanos' fourth home run of the season, giving him 18 RBI (MLB.com video).
TIGRES ARRIBAAA! Nick Castellanos le da ventaja a los Tigres con solo HR al jardín izquierdo! Tigres arriba 1-0 en segunda entrada. #tigers— Tigres de Detroit (@TigresdeDetroit) May 4, 2014
Top of three, Rajai Davis ripped a one-hopper inside the third base bag past a diving Mike Moustakas for a stand-up double. One down, the Royals pitched around Miguel Cabrera, who took the free pass. Davis advanced to third by stealing his team leading tenth base of the season (second in two games), putting him a fly ball away from scoring.
Martinez popped up to short center, one of the few times this season he didn't get the run home with less than two outs. But Hunter was able to extend both the Tigers' lead and his hitting streak with a two out RBI single to left (MLB.com video).
Up 2-0, Justin Verlander was having little trouble. He walked Norichika Aoki, the first Royal he faced, then retired the next eight batters in order. A two out walk to Aoki extended the third, but Omar Infante lined out to right to end another scoreless inning.
Top of four, the Tigers once again kicked up their heels against Vargas. Andrew Romine singled, taking third on Davis' second hit of the game, a single to right. Davis proceeded to swipe second, making him 2-for-2 in stolen bases on the day.
Kinsler didn't hit the ball hard, but in the right spot. His slow ground ball up the middle got past Vargas, shortstop Alcides Escobar unable to throw out a hustling down the line Kinsler. The infield single drove in Romine, pushing the Tigers' lead to 3-0.
But Cabrera did hit the ball hard, slashing a liner down the right field line. Davis strolled home with run number four. Aoki took his time, waiting for the ball to roll around in the corner, allowing Kinsler to race around the bases, crossing the plate without drawing throw (MLB.com video). Cabrera's double drove in a pair, allowing him to retake the team RBI lead from Castellanos with 19.
Bottom of four, the Tigers were up 5-0 and Verlander had yet to allow a base hit. He did walk his third batter of the day with two down, but Salvador Perez hit a tapper to Cabrera to end the inning.
Another inning, another Tigers' threat against Vargas. Austin Jackson led off the fifth with a single to center, then advancing on a one out steal of second (number three on the season).
The regression monster was nipping hard at Vargas' heels as Alex Avila, the only Tiger without a hit, came to the plate. The regression monster caught Vargas when Avila smacked his second home run of the series, launching a full count fastball over the wall in dead center field (MLB.com video). The two run shot was Avila's second of the year, the Tigers pulling away from the Royals with a 7-0 lead.
Verlander cruised through the bottom half of the fifth, the Royals going down in order. Pitch count-wise, Verlnader was fine and dandy at 72. Hit-wise, he had yet to allow one.
Bottom of the sixth, Verlander walked his fourth batter of the day (Aoki for the third time), but was just one out away from taking a no-no into the seventh. But if anyone was going to end Verlander's shot at a third no-hitter, Country Breakfast was the most likely culprit. That's exactly what happened. Billy Butler's clean two out single ended the no-hit bid.
Hits delete on Verlander no-hitter post.— Al Beaton (@BigAlBYB) May 4, 2014
Verlander shook it off, ending the threat on Gordon's weak ground ball to first. The no-hitter was off the table, but a shutout was still in play, the Tigers up 7-0 going into the seventh.
Bottom of seven, Verlander faced his first real jam of the afternoon. A gimpy Salvador Perez led off by doubling over the outstretched glove of Davis in deep left. A visibly hurting Perez was replaced by pinch-runner Brett Hayes.
One down, Escobar singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Jarrod Dyson hit a fly directly toward Hunter which he appeared to misjudge. Playing shallow, Hunter got a late break, then pulled up well short of the wall as if he thought the ball was going to clear it. The ball fell short, bouncing off the fence on one hop. By the time Hunter got the ball back in, Dyson was standing on third with a two RBI triple.
The Royals would pull within four at 7-3 on Aoki's sacrifice fly. Verlander would get the final out of the inning, Infante bouncing to short. But the no-hitter and shutout off the table, and his pitch count now 107, Verlander's day was over.
Top of eight, the Tigers looked to get those runs back. They came close, plating a pair.
Romine led off against reliever Michael Mariot with his second hit of the day, singling to left. Davis reached base for the third time, beating out a high chopper to short.
Two on and one out, both runners moved into scoring position when Mariot unleashed a wild pitch with Cabrera at the plate. But Cabrera couldn't get the runner home from third, Mariot throwing a fastball past him for strike three.
Two out and ducks on the pond, the Royals still did not want anything to do with Martinez. Preferring to load the bases than pitch to him, Ned Yost ordered Martinez be given an intentional walk for the fourth time in the series.
Hunter, who is almost as hot as Martinez, made Yost pay dearly for his Martinez stratergerizing. Hunter came through with his third hit of the game, lining a two out, two RBI single to right which upped Detroit's lead to 9-3.
Verlander's nice afternoon over after seven innings, Ian Krol got eighth inning duty. He pitched around Butler's one out double, setting down Gordon and Hayes. Hungry to score, Country Breakfast was a leftover on second. The Tigers were up 9-3 as the game rolled into the ninth.
The Royals needed to give their closer some work, so Greg Holland made a ninth inning appearance despite the Royals being six runs down. He didn't give up a run, but did allow Romine's third hit of the afternoon.
Al Alburquerque got the garbage time role, and didn't pitch particularly well. Moustakas drew a lead off walk, and would scored on Aoki's one out single. Infante singled with two out, which got Joe Nathan warming up.
Thankfully, Nathan (nor anyone else in the bullpen) would be needed. Avila cradled Hosmer's foul pop behind the plate for the final out.
Your final score is Tigers 9, Royals 4. Your final series score is Tigers 26, Royals 8.
The Tigers' stretch of 50 games in 52 days continues, starting starting a seven game home stand with four versus the Astros. Jarred Cosart (1-2, 5.52) takes the mound for Houston, Max Scherzer (3-1, 2.08 ERA) gets the ball for Detroit.
One extremely bad outing (7 ER in 1/3 IP versus the A's) in six starts skewed Cosart's numbers. He coming off a pair of quality starts, pitching into the sixth against the Mariners and Nationals, allowing just two runs in each game. Being he pitches for the Astros, Costart earned no-decisions in both appearances.
Scherzer is pitching like the Cy Young winner he just happens to be. He leads the AL in strikeouts with 51, and has won his last three starts. His last appearance was typical Scherzer, shutting out the White Sox over six innings, allowing just four hits and striking out seven.
First pitch at Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Say what you will about our FOX Sports Detroit broadcasting team, but I think we all have a soft spot for Rod Allen and Mario Impemba. I know I do.
After suffering thru FS1's crew yesterday...welcome back Rod and Mario! pic.twitter.com/2iH9YxQWfc— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 4, 2014
We're going streaking!
- Thanks to his first inning single, Victor Martinez's hit streak is now at seven games
- Torii Hunter's streak reached 11 games with a third inning RBI single.
- Miguel Cabrera's two RBI double in the fourth pushed his hitting streak to ten games.
- Rajai Davis has stolen five consecutive bases. His last caught stealing was on April 19. Davis has 11 steals on the season, already giving him more than the Tigers' team leader in 2013 (Austin Jackson with eight).
- Every Tiger in the starting lineup has had at least one base hit in three straight games.
- The Tigers have scored at least eight runs in three straight games for the first time since Sept. 25-27, 2011.
Justin Verlander: The wheels came off somewhat in a three run seventh. But when you no-hit a team for 5 2/3 innings and exit after seven innings having allowed three runs and four hits, striking out seven? You get a ROAR.
Rajai Davis: Big game for the left fielder with three hits, three runs scored and two stolen bases. Davis has helped transform the Tigers' offense with his speed.
Torii Hunter: Three more hits and three RBIs for the ageless one. Hunter now has six multi-hit games in his 11 game hitting streak, hitting .396 during the streak.
Andrew Romine: Three hits, two runs scored and flawless defense.
Ian Kinsler: Two hits, an RBI, a run scored, and nary a TOOTBLAN.
Alex Avila: A two run home run for the catcher who is only on the team (as too many in the fan base seem to believe) because his dad is in the front office.
Nick Castellanos: Gave the Tigers an early lead with his fourth homer and 18th RBI. Castellanos is now tied for the team lead in home runs and third in RBIs.
Al Alburquerque: Did a Phil Coke impersonation in the ninth, allowing a walk and two hits, which got the bullpen stirring despite a five run lead.
Billy Butler: Damn you, Country Breakfast, and your owning of Verlander!
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GAME 25 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Drew Smyly's strong performance on the field (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 6 K, 0 BB, 93 P) topped Mr. Sunshine's strong academic outing (Masters of Geology) to take PotG.