The Kansas City Royals kept their postseason hopes alive, finishing off a double header sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 3-0 victory in the nightcap. The Royals make up two games on the Tigers, pulling within 6 1/2 games of first place.
James Shields (8-8) held the big Tigers' bats scoreless, allowing just three hits over seven shutout innings. Greg Holland pitched the ninth, earning his second save of the day and 34th of the season.
The Tigers called up Jose Alverez from Triple-A Toledo for tonight's start, sending him back down when the game was over. In his fourth big league start, Alverez held his own in 5 2/3 innings of work, giving up two runs on five hits.
There wasn't much offense to speak of on either side. The big hit of the game came off the bat of Eric Hosmer, supplying all the the runs the Royals would need by slugging a two run home run in the third inning. Jamey Carroll tacked on a seventh inning insurance run with a sacrifice fly.
The only Tiger with an extra base hit was Miguel Cabrera, doubling in the first inning. After stranding two runners in scoring position in the third, not one Tigers base runner reached second base.
On the day, the Royals outscored the Tigers 5-1, out hitting them 15-6. Not overwhelming numbers in wining two games, by any means. The Tigers pitched more than well enough to win most double headers. Just not today's.
Despite Hosmer's two home runs, The Royals beat the Tigers almost solely on the strength of their pitching. Shields and Duffy combined to pitch 13 scoreless innings, allowing just four hits. Four Royals' relievers would allow only one run and two hits over five innings.
We've seen the Tigers out pitch the opposition almost all season long. Today, we leaned how they feel.
Game two of the double header started with the Royals manufacturing a scoring threat against Jose Alverez. Eric Hosmer singled with one out, stole second and advanced to third on Tiger Killer Billy Butler's ground out. Alverez stranded Hosmer 90 feet short of home by striking out Alex Gordon.
Bottom of one, for some reason no one can comprehend the Tigers tried to emulate the Royals and try to manufacture a run. They failed, miserably.
Austin Jackson led off with a walk. Wonderful! But the hit and run was called with Torii Hunter at the plate. Once Hunter swung and missed, Jackson, not exactly known for his base running ability, was easily thrown out by Salvador Perez (from his knees), owner of one of the best arms in baseball.
Of course, with two out Miguel Cabrera doubled to the scoreboard in right center.. Prince Fielder then bounced out to end the inning, the Tigers wasting an opportunity. Friday's game two was starting off just as game one did.
Bottom of two, the Tigers had a one out scoring opportunity. With one out (David Lough robbing Victor Martinez of extra bases with a nice catch in right center), Andy Dirks walked, taking second after jumping out of the way of Brayan Pena's single. But being Omar Infante given the night off, the Tigers' weak hitting bottom of the order reared its ugly head. Ramon Santiago couldn't recreate his game one performance, sending a can of corn to left. Jose Iglesias popped up to short left, ending the threat.
The Tigers were getting better swings against Sheilds than they did Danny Duffy, the winner of game one. But they had yet to capitalize.
As noted below, Alverez looks great the first time through the lineup (.219 SLG), then all Hell breaks loose (.931 SLG). Whelp, guess what happened in the third. Two down, Jamey Carroll faced Alverez for the second time and worked a walk, extending the inning. Hosmer nearly found the Pepsi Porch with a massive bomb of a big fly, an absolute no-doubt home run to deep right. Hosmer's second homer of the day and 14th of the season gave the Royals a 2-0 lead.
Top of three, the Tigers put a runner in scoring position for the third consecutive inning. Jackson led off by drawing his second walk of the game. This time around there was no stolen base silliness. Hunter lined a single to right, Jackson holding up at second.
Cabrera moved the runners over, be it accidentally. Shields had no other play after fielding Cabrera's swinging bunt, Jackson and Hunter advancing. Fielder had a chance to drive in a run from third with less than two out. Instead, he popped up to short left center, too shallow for Jackson to tag.
What had been a miserable day for the Tigers continued. Martinez hit the ball hard, but right at Lough, another scoring opportunity falling by the wayside.
Alverez's second time through the order problems continued in the fourth. One out, Lough ripped a hard double off the right field wall. But this time it would be the Royals doing the squandering. Bonifacio popped up to short left, Alcides Escobar flying out to shallow right.
Bottom of four, Shields put together his first 1-2-3 inning. That did not bode well for the Tigers' chances. Yet there was plenty of baseball left to be played. Once Chris Getz reached on a bunt single, Alverez retired the the next three Royals in order in a drama-free top of the fifth. As frustrating as the day had been, the Tigers were far from being out of the game. But when you aren't hitting, a 2-0 deficit feels like 10-0.
Unlike game one, the Tigers were hitting the ball hard. They weren't finding holes. Bottom of the fifth, Shields plunked Hunter with two out. Cabrera proceeded to smoke a 3-1 pitch, hitting it on the screws ... but sent a line drive right at Gordon, who caught it on the warning track, ending the inning.
All a visibly frustrated Cabrera could do was look toward the heavens for salvation from the Baseball Gods.
Alverez had not pitched six innings in a big league start since his victorious debut on June 9. He fell an out short tonight. Top of six, Perez singled with one out, Bonifacio then drawing a two out walk. Jim Leyland pulled the plug on Alverez after 5 2/3 innings and 97 pitches.
Alverez had made only one serious mistake, the home run ball to Hosmer. With normal run support, much like Justin Verlander in game one, Alverez isn't on the hook for a loss. I'll take two runs over 5 2/3 innings from who is essentially the sixth starter and run with it.
As expected, Jeremy Bonderman took over for the rookie lefty and was quickly out of the inning. Iglesias grabbed Escobar's slow roller and flipped to Cabrera, ending the inning on a fielder's choice. In the words of Mario Impemba:
"Iggy to Miggy!"
There were no new catch phrases to describe the bottom of the sixth. Shields had not allowed a base hit since Hunter's third inning single. That remained the Tigers' last hit, Shields retiring the side in order. Fielder made a lead off bid, but Gordon flagged down his liner on the warning track.
Through 15 innings, the Tigers had all of five hits.
Top of seven, the Tigers started falling apart. Getz sent a foul pop to the left side. Instead of allowing Iglesias to make the play, Cabrera tried to make a difficult over the shoulder catch. The ball bounced off his glove. The play would ultimately cost the Tigers a run.
Given second life, Getz made the most of it, looping a single to center. Jackson Bonderman then made a huge mistake, his wild pick off attempt bouncing into right field, Getz racing all the way to third. Carroll would drive him home with a sacrifice fly to left. Dirks made a very good throw, but Getz just plain out ran it, the Royals now up 3-0.
After Hosmer struck out, Country Breakfast kept the inning alive by singling to center. Leyland, in Captain Hook mode, wanted the lefty-lefty match up with Gordon, replacing Bonderman with Phil Coke. Coke did his job, striking out Gordon to end the inning.
Shields was doing what aces do, pitching deep into a game. Bottom of seven, Sheilds was still on the mound, giving the Royals' pen a break.One out, Santiago became only the fifth (three hits, two base on balls) Tigers' base runner of the night, drawing a walk. Shields shrugged it off, striking out Iglesias (Shields' first of the game), Jackson flying out to end the inning.
Chris Iott of Mlive sums up the long day to this point.
Tigers have one run and five hits in 16 innings of a doubleheader. The run came on a home run by Ramon Santiago. No, the year is not 2003.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) August 17, 2013
But the Tigers were hitting like it's 2003.
Despite just one left-handed bat due to the plate, Leyland let Coke start the eighth. Weirdly, he struck out the right-handed Perez, then allowed a single to the lefty, Lough. Leyland obviously did not want to use Drew Smyly or Bruce Rondon tonight, and Jose Veras was being saved for closer duty if necessary (Joaquin Benoit was given both games off). Which is why Coke was still on the mound and Al Alburquerque was warming up.
It looked as if the Tigers would get an around the horn double play to end the inning, but the speed merchant Bonifacio narrowly beat Santiago's one-hop throw, keeping the inning alive. Another right-handed bat in Escobar was on-deck and Alburquerque was ready, so Leyland made the pitching change.
Bonifacio had no trouble stealing second off Alburquerque, the sixth straight stolen base for the Royals. Rod Allen was trying to hide his disgust.
"I mean it's really a joke, it's not even close."
Alburquerque kept the game at 3-0, Escobar grounding out to Cabrera.
Sheilds' night was over after seven full innings and 106 pitches, replaced by set up man Luke Hochevar in the bottom of the eighth. The Tigers could not buy a hit, no matter who was on the mound or at the plate. One down, Cabrera hit a drive to deep right center, Bonifacio and Lough crashed into each other in front of the scoreboard ... but Bonifacio held on for the out. Hochevar would then wrap up a 1-2-3 inning, Fielder striking out to end an 0-for-7 day.
Top of nine, Alburquerque remained in the game for the Tigers. With one out, Cabrera made a brutal throw on Carroll's ground ball, skipping into right field. Carroll was safe on second base after the E-5. Not wanting to mess with Hosmer, Lelyand ordered an intentional walk, preferring to pitch to Butler. Alburquerque made the strategy work, Butler popping up for the second out. But the erratic Alburquerque uncorked a high and tight pitch to Gordon which glanced off Pena's glove, Carroll taking third on what was ruled a passed ball. Alburquerque finally got out of the inning unscathed, Gordon striking out on a nasty slider.
Regardless, headed into the bottom of the ninth, the Tigers were still down 3-0. They would need to pull off a comeback against Royals' closer Greg Holland, who had a 16 consecutive saves streak on the line.
Martinez led off with a single to left. FALSE HOPE, Holland stuck out Dirks for the first out of the inning. The game would then end in fitting fashion.
Pena's hard ground ball to first was stabbed by Hosmer. He stepped on the bag, then fired to second. Martinez was caught in a short rundown before realizing it was a hopeless endeavor (as were the entire 18 innings), allowing himsefl to be tagged out, ending a miserable day of baseball.
Game over. Double header over. Your final score is Royals 3, Tigers 0.
If you sat through both losses, you deserve a medal of some sort. Good thing tomorrow's another day and the Tigers are still huge, huge favorites to make the playoffs. We'll forget all about this double header if the Tigers take the next two games.
In losing two to the Royals, the first place Tigers took a small shot in the standings. Falling to 71-51 on the season, the Tigers' lead over the Indians (who are in Oakland tonight) is down to 5 1/2. The Royals, still clinging to playoff hopes, made up two games on the Tigers and are hovering at 6 1/2 games out of first.
Saturday's game, the fourth of five between the Royals and Tigers, has right-hander Wade Davis (6-9, 5.29 ERA) facing the Tigers' Tall Man, Doug Fister (10-6, 3.60 ERA). After posting a 10.91 ERA in a four game winnless stretch, Davis has a 1.96 ERA and 2-0 record his last three starts. Keep in mind those three teams were the White Sox, Mets and Marlins (a combined .409 winning percentage). Fister had a five game lossless streak (4-0, 1.59 ERA) snapped in his last start, allowing four runs over six innings in a loss to the White Sox. First pitch is set for 7:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Not sure what to expect from Jose Alverez tonight? Occasional BYB contributor and all-time numbers guru GWilson dug up an eye opening stat:
Alverez 1st time through order .188/.278/.219 (36 PAs)
Alverez 2nd time through order .345/.429/.931 (35 PAs)
No Tiger starter in recorded history who faced at least 20 batters the second time through in a season has allowed a slugging percentage that high. If we relax the standard to 15 PAs then Alfredo Figaro’s 1.000 SLG allowed in 2009 is the only one higher.
The Royals did get to Alverez the second time through the order, but I don't think anyone should be unhappy with two runs allowed in 5 2/3 innings.
Eric Hosmer's steal of second in the first inning was the Royals' fifth stolen base in as many attempts the series. They made it six for six when Bonifacio swiped second in the eighth.
More Hosmer via ESPN Stats & Info. He became the first Royal to homer in both games of a double header since Dean Palmer accomplished the feat in 1998.
Jose Iglesias likely made the highlight reels again with his catch of Emilio Bonifacio's line drive to end the second inning. The ball popped out of his glove, but like an NFL wide receiver, Iglesias spun around and hauled the ball in with a basket catch (MLB.com video).
The reaction to Austin Jackson leading off the third with a single drew the expected blowback...
If Leyland sends Jackson this time I'm shooting my TV.— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) August 16, 2013
Can Jackson try to steal second again because that would be funny to watch.— #BecauseBaseball (@TigersSouthpaw) August 16, 2013
Is Lynn Henning spit-balling or hinting the Tigers could call up Nick Castellanos soon?
Castellanos with two hits last night (missed 4 games after being hit by pitch). Home run tonight. Tigers need back-end punch. Might try him.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) August 17, 2013
Bad news out of Toledo, via John Wagner of the Blade. Hopefully, it's not a serious situation.
Was just told Hernan Perez is leaving @MudHens game ... I have been told that his wife was in accident and was sent to hospital.— JWagnerBlade (@jwagnerblade) August 17, 2013
A later update from Wagner has the Mud Huns calling the issue a "family emergency."
This is the look on Tigers fans faces everywhere after today's double header loss. Well, some of them, anyway.
The last time the Royals swept the Tigers in a double header was August 5, 1984. The Tigers beat the Royals in the 1984 ALCS and went on to win the World Series. The last time the Tigers were swept in a home twin bill was less than a year ago, the Twins pulling it off on September 23. The Tigers made it to the World Series. So no worries, right?
Dan Dickerson reminds us the Tigers having problems scoring runs against the Royals is nothing new.
#Tigers have #1 offense in AL - but not vs. Royals....have now scored just 22R last 9G vs. KC...have held Royals to 22R in those 9G, but 3-6— Dan Dickerson (@Dan_Dickerson) August 17, 2013
Maybe I'm just extremely cranky after watching the Tigers drop a double header, but one thing Leyland said bothered me. In regard to the first inning failed hit and run, Leyland said this:
"He (Salvador Perez) made a terrific play, we know the kid behind the plate has a cannon."
So why are you trying to run on a kid who owns a cannon arm with a team that is slow as as any in the game? I'm sure the thought process was the usual, in order to make something happen. Not that it made a huge difference in the game considering how well Shields was throwing, but that early on, who knows?
Jose Alverez: Not a bad outing at all for the rookie, two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Phil Coke: Not used as a lefty specialist, Coke did not allow a run in his one inning of work.
Al Alburquerque: No hits and no runs in 1 1/3 innings of work, saving the bullpen.
ONE HUGE HISS:
Tigers' offense: Pitched into complete submission by the Royals. Sometimes the other guys just beat you. Today, the Royals pitching staff beat the pants off the Tigers.
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TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
|10||There Can Only Be One Verlander||40|
|# Recs||Commenter||Comment Link|
|5||Alex Baker||this doubleheader|
|2||J_the_Man||Rare moment of Tigers scoring runs captured|
|2||NCDee||So a sheriff walks into a bar in the Old West|
|1||SanDiegoMick||Why will some plays not be reviewable?|
In a game with few candidates, IJustin Verlander's eight inning, two runs allowed performance made him the overwhelming PotG, carrying 90% of the vote.