The streaking Tigers have won three straight, are 8-3 in their last 11 games and own a three game lead in the Central. The victory raises their record to 15-9 on the young season. Their .625 win percentage is now the best in the American League and second overall behind the Brewers (21-9, .700) in MLB.
Rick Porcello (4-1) won his third straight game by pitching seven strong innings, giving up two runs on just four hits, striking out a season high six. He retired the final 12 batters he faced. It was the fourth time in five starts Porcello has pitched into the seventh inning. Ian Krol and Evan Reed wrapped up the game for Detroit by each tossing a hitless inning of relief.
Starting pitcher James Shields (3-3) wasn't at all sharp for the Royals, tagged for 12 hits over 6 1/3 innings. He took the loss, allowing eight runs, seven earned.
All nine Tigers had at least one base hit, four coming through with multi-hit games. As he has so often as of late, Victor Martinez led the way. The veteran DH triggered the offense with three hits,, two RBIs and a run scored. The younger Martinez, J.D, chipped in a pair of hits, driving in two. Torii Hunter and Ian Kinsler also had two hit games.
Alex Avila had just one of the Tigers' 14 hits, but it was the biggest of the game - a two run homer, Avila's first of the season.
As a team, the Royals hit for the cycle. Unfortunately, they had just those four hits. Ex-Tiger Omar Infante had two hits and scored a run. Billy Butler added his first home run of the season for the Royals.
The Tigers guaranteed themselves a winning road trip in beating the Royals. They are now 4-1 on the trip with two games remaining. They then come home for seven games against a pair of under .500 teams - four with the last in the AL Astros and three against the Twins.
Despite injuries, bullpen issues and bad weather, everything seems to be coming up Milhouse for the Detroit Tigers.
Bottom of the first, former Tiger 2X over Omar Infante made Rick Porcello pay early by driving a liner over the head of Torii Hunter in right. Hunter didn't play the ball particularly well, allowing Infante to slide head-first into third with a triple. He would jog home on Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly to deep left.
Tigers down 1-0 and facing Royals' ace James Shields, Victor Martinez led off by reaching out at an outside fastball, slapping a double to left (and making it look easy). One out, Don Kelly's humpback liner dropped in short left, Martinez advancing to third.
As J.D. Martinez was striking out, Kelly was taking second on a wild pitch. In a nine pitch at-bat, Alex Avila fouled off a couple of full count pitches before drawing a base on balls, loading the bases for number nine hitting Andrew Romine.
Romine got ahead in the count 2-0. But a TTBDNS went in the books when Romine sent a can of corn to right, ending the threat.
Bottom of two, another half inning, another threat. With two down and no one on, Mike Moustakas launched a shot to dead center, doubling over the head of Austin Jackson. Given an RBI opportunity, Alcides Escobar couldn't handle Porcello's full count breaking ball, swinging over it to end the inning.
Shields wasn't at his sharpest, the meat of the Tigers' order getting to him in the third. Hunter led off with a single. Miguel Cabrera then lined a two base hit into the left field corner. Third base coach Dave Clark
Five aggressively waved Hunter around. The relay throw was late and off-line, Hunter sliding home to knot the score at 1-all (MLB.com video).
Martinez missed a home run by a couple of feet, but line drive off the fence in right was good for two bases and an RBI, the Tigers taking the lead at 2-1 as Cabrera scored (MLB.com video).
Sheilds would get out of further trouble when Kelly flew out. But the Tigers were making him work, Sheilds' pitch count stood at 60 through three innings.
Porcello did what you want to see from your starter, toss a shutdown inning after being given a lead. He did just that, pitching around Infante's two out single to preserve the Tigers' 2-1 advantage.
The Tigers kept hitting the ball hard in the fourth, assaulting the Kauffman Stadium fences while extending their lead over the Royals.
J.D. Martinez came closer to a home run than Martinez the Elder, his fly ball to deep right landing a few inches from the top the right field fence, good for a lead off double. It would be Alex Avila who would finally power a Shields pitch over the wall.
First pitch swinging, his fly ball to right carried over the scoreboard. Avila's first big fly of the season measured at 392 feet, the two run bomb putting the Tigers up 4-1 (MLB.com video).
Adioooooos, pelotaaaa! Alex Avila conecta para HR de dos carreras para extender ventaja! Tigres arriba 4-1 en cuarta entrada. #tigers— Tigres de Detroit (@TigresdeDetroit) May 3, 2014
Romine made it three consecutive hits with a single to left. Moustakas made a nice play to grab Ian Kinsler's bouncer behind the third base bag, but Romine's hustle to second forced a bad throw. He advanced to third when the throw skipped into short right. Kinsler was given a single, Moustakas an error on the throw.
The Royals then traded a run for two outs, Romine scoring when Hunter grounded into a 6-4-3-double play. The inning would end with the Tigers up 5-1 on Kansas City.
The Royals would counter Avila's home run with one of their own. Billy Butler jumped all over a 3-1 fastball, hooking a line drive around the left field foul pole. Country Breakfast's first home run of the season cut the Tigers' lead to three at 5-2.
Porcello would shake off Butler's homer, striking out both Alex Gordon and Moustakas (both left-handers, natch) as he retired the side in order. After four innings, Porcello had yet to walk a batter while striking out five, four swinging.
Shields did find a groove after the Tigers rocked him for three runs in the fourth. Post Martinez the Elder's RBI double, Sheilds retired the next eight Tigers he faced, keeping the Royals within shouting distance. But Porcello was doing the same with the Royals. He never lost his groove, setting down the next nine batters he faced after Butler's home run.
Both starters were still on the mound as the game rolled into the seventh inning, the Tigers maintaining a 5-2 advantage.
Shields' out streak ended at eight when he plunked Kinsler leading off the seventh. Hunter followed up with the Tigers' first base hit since the fourth by bouncing a single into center. Runners on first and second, Cabrera hit the ball hard, but the vacuum-like Jarrod Dyson ran the liner down in right center. Kinsler tagged up, taking third on the play.
Martinez the Elder continues to swing the bat like a man who wants a contract extension. He dropped an RBI single in front of right fielder Norichika Aoki for his third hit of the night, Kinsler jogging home to put the Tigers up 6-2.
Victor Martinez. Another hit, another RBI. Yawn.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 3, 2014
There is no solution to get V-Mart out, he is one of the most even-keeled and consistent hitters in baseball.— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) May 3, 2014
Jackson sent Shields to the showers with a seeing-eye single through the left side, loading the bases for Don Kelly.
Ordered to get Donnie Baseball out was Royals right-handed reliever Kelvin Herrera. He did just that, Kelly unable to hold up on an low and inside breaking ball for the second out.
Speaking of players who want to stick around...
J.D. Martinez swung at the first pitch he saw from Herrera, going the other way by slashing a two RBI double into the right field corner. Hunter and Martinez the Elder scored, the Tigers pushing their lead to 8-2.
Herrera would retire Avila on a ground ball, ending the rally. But the Tigers had pulled away from the Royals, sending eight to the plate, scoring three runs on four hits and a hit batsman.
Porcello entered the bottom of the seventh with a pitch count of 87. Another scoreless inning ended an excellent performance, Porcello exiting having held the Royals to two runs and four hits over 106 pitches
Ian Krol got eighth inning duty, needing a whole four pitches to set the Royals down 1-2-3. Blink your eye and you missed it.
Even Reed got the ninth inning garbage time assignment. His fastball hitting the mid-90s, Reed had an easy inning in retiring the side in order.
GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 8, Royals 2.
The Tigers' pitching staff slammed the door by retiring the last 18 Royals they faced (12 for Porcello, six for the bullpen). That's how you close out a game!
Saturday night's game two has Drew Smyly (1-1, 3.60 ERA) taking on Royals' lefty Danny Duffy (1-1, 2.16 ERA).
Thanks to quirks in the schedule and the weather, Smyly is making just his third start of the season. A rough first outing led to a solid performance in his second. In line for a win before the bullpen coughed up the lead in a 6-4 loss to the White Sox, Smyly allowed two runs and six hits, striking out seven over six innings.
Duffy steps into the Royals' rotation in place of Bruce Chen, who was placed on the 15-day DL with a bulging disc in his back. Fully recovered from 2012 Tommy John surgery, Duffy has made six appearances this season, all out of the bullpen. He'll be making his first start since September 7, 2013, when he allowed two runs and two hits on 87 pitches over 4 1/3 innings against the Tigers.
Fist pitch at Kauffman Stadium is set for 7:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Torii Hunter may be good at recruiting players (just ask Joel Hanrahan), but his defense is getting worse by the day. According to Matthew B. Mowery, going by the Defensive Runs Saved metric, Hunter is the worst defender in baseball at -9.
Frank the Tank wants to go streaking, these Tigers will join him:
- Hunter's third inning single extended his hitting streak to nine games. He has five multi-hit games and hitting .410 during the streak.
- Miguel Cabrera's double in the same inning did double duty, plating Hunter and extending his hitting streak to eight games.
- Victor Martinez's second inning two base hit gives him a five game streak. He also has at least one hit in 13 of his last 15 games.
But who owns the most remarkable streak of all? It also belongs to Martinez the Elder. The News' Tom Gage found this nugget earlier today:
last stats on #Tigers VMart streak: Hasn't taken call third strike since 5/21 of last year (Matt Albers) - 626 plate apps ago— Tom Gage (@Tom_Gage) May 2, 2014
Add in his five at bats tonight, his streak is now at 631 plate appearances. Amazing.
The Bless You Boys stat of the game is courtesy of HookSlide:
Game. Over. The Tigers are still undefeated in games where they score more runs than their opponents.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 3, 2014
Rick Porcello: Kid Rick was excellent, holding the Royals in check over seven full innings. He also getting generous run support, the Tigers scoring more than seven runs in three of his four wins. But Porcello is making the most of it, leading the pitching staff with four wins.
Victor Martinez: It's to the point where I should leave Martinez the Elder's name in the recap template under ROARS. VMart led the Tigers with three hits, drove in a pair of runs and scored another.
Alex Avila: Reached base twice on a walk and a two run bomb that broke the game open. That's the sort of performance you expect from Avila when he's seeing the ball well. He's now getting on base at a .349 clip, yet Avila still gets grief from a good sized segment of the fan base.
They'd claim "small sample size," if they knew what that was. RT @TonyPaul1984 Alex Avila haters pretty quiet right now.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) May 3, 2014
J.D. Martinez: Giving Rajai Davis the night off, Martinez flashed his power off the bench with two hits. He missed a home run by inches, settling for a two RBI double in the seventh.
Baseball being a game of inches: Miguel Cabrera hammered the ball in four of his five at-bats, but had just one hit to show for it. He just missed a couple of home runs tonight.
TOP 11 COMMENTERS:
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GAME 23 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Max Scherzer won his third consecutive start, shutting out the White Sox over six innings on four hits, striking out seven. That gave him PotG honors with 58% of the vote.