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Tigers 9, Royals 2: Drew Smyly shows why he belongs in the rotation

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Six ninth inning runs turned a tight game into a blowout, the Tigers pulling away late for a 9-2 victory. Drew Smyly had the best performance of his career, holding the Royals to two hits over seven shutout innings.

Ed Zurga

The Detroit Tigers beat the the Kansas City Royals 9-2 in a game which was much closer than the score indicates. A tight 3-0 nail-biter turned into 9-0 blowout city when the Tigers scored six runs in the ninth. The Royals countered with a pair of runs, but it wasn't nearly enough (despite Phil Coke being on the mound).

The win pushes the Tigers' AL leading record to 16-9, .640. Their record is now second only to the Brewers in all of baseball.

Drew Smyly pitched the best game game of his young career in winning his second game of 2014, shutting out the Royals on two hits, striking out six over seven innings. Joba Chamberlain also looked good in pitching a hitless eighth. But Phil Coke sullied the bullpen's already shady reputation by allowing two runs on three hits in a meaningless ninth inning when the game was already out of reach.

Getting the start in place of an injured Bruce Chen, Danny Duffy remained a work in progress for the Royals. He took the loss, but allowed only one run and four hits. As has been his M.O., Duffy's lack of command forced his early removal. He got the hook after four innings, thanks to an elevated pitch count of 75. For comparison's sake, Smyly reached the 75 pitch mark at the end of six innings.

But it was poor Aaron Brooks who would suffer the brunt of the Tigers' attack. He pitched two innings in his major league debut, the Tigers thrashing the Royals' rookie reliever for six runs and seven hits. Six of the hits and all of the runs came in the ninth, turning the night into a laffer.

The Tigers had 12 hits against five Royals' pitchers, seven hits going for extra bases. Both Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler had two hits and an RBI. Victor Martinez reached base four times, scoring twice. Nick Castellanos had just one hit, but it was a two RBI double, adding a sacrifice fly. Torii Hunter capped off the the Tigers' big night with a three run home run in the ninth.

The Royals could put only two hits on the scoreboard while the game was still doubt. Once the Tigers pulled away in the ninth, they added three hits and scored both of their runs. Eric Hosmer was the only Royal with two hits. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon each added garbage time RBIs.

The Tigers are now 5-1 on this road trip, 7-3 over the last ten games and 10-4 in their last 14. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Thanks to their recent hot streak, the Tigers are already putting some distance between themselves and the rest of the AL Central. The second place Royals fall four games back after tonight's loss. The Twins, who play in Detroit next week, are 4 1/2 out. The White Sox are now five down, the Indians trail everyone, 5 1/2 in arrears.


Danny Duffy's last start against Detroit (September 7, 2013) lasted only 4 1/3 innings due to a pitch count of 87. Top of one, Duffy retired the side in order, but he needed 21 pitches to do it.  Duffy makes the guy who keeps track of pitch counts earn his money.

After an easy inning for Drew Smyly, Victor Martinez led off with a lead off double, ripping a liner down the left field line.

Torii Hunter walked, setting up a two on, no one out opportunity. But Austin Jackson popped up, Nick Castellanos bounced into a 5-4 fielder's choice, and Bryan Holaday sent a can of corn to right.

In your score books, mark that a TTBNS.

Bottom of two, Smyly needed defense from an unexpected source to get him out of trouble.

One down, Gordon walked on a full count and took second on a ground ball.Alcides Escobar proceeded to rip a line drive to right center field which had RBI double written all over it. But Torii Hunter raced into the gap and got to the ball just before it hit the turf to make a marvelous diving catch.

Every once in a great while we see the Torii Hunter who tortured us Tigers fans as a Twin. That inning ending catch was one of those times.

Top of three, Duffy was managing to keep his pitch count down, helped by picking Ian Kinsler off first to end the inning with a TOOTBLAN. Duffy was going to be held to 75-80 pitches, and was at 47 after three full.

Duffy command issues came back in the fourth, walking Cabrera and Martinez to start the inning. Duffy struck out Hunter, but Jackson worked a full count base on balls to load the bases for Castellanos.

No one runs on the arm of Royals' left fielder Alex Gordon. No. One.

Unless your name is Miguel Cabrera.

Gordon charged Castellanos' looping liner, making the catch. Cabrera shocked everyone on the planet by tagging up and taking off for home. Most shocked of all was Gordon, who was so stunned he didn't bother to steady himself or set his feet. Instead he uncorked an on-the-run, off-balance, off-line, off-everything throw.

Cabrera had decided to run on one of the best arms in the game ...and scored standing up. (faints)

Duffy was able to get out of further trouble, retiring Holaday on a fly to left. But Cabrera's sneaky speed gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead ( video).

Smyly found himself in a one out jam when Eric Hosmer launched a double to dead center, where not even Jackson could run it down. Smyly (not helped at all by Holaday) wild pitched Hosmer to third. but another nice outfield play bailed him out.

Jackson ran down Gordon's fly ball to deep left center on the warning track to strand the tying run 90 feet away.

Duff Man was replaced by Lewis Coleman after four innings and 75 pitches.Kinsler helped Coleman out by committing his second TOOTBLAN in as many at bats thanks to his ridiculous base running. He doubled to left center, but made a rash decision to try and stretch the play into a triple. Two problems with that - The play wasn't there and Cabrera was on deck. Kinsler was an easy TOOTNBLAN at third, ending the inning.

Hell, may as well change Kansas City to TOOTBLAN City. Ian Kinsler Danny Valencia got himself thrown out at second by Rajai Davis trying to stretch a single into a double. The play kept Smyly out of trouble, the Tigers taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth.

Cabrera's sneakiness came back to the fore in the top of the sixth, taking Martinez on the ride as well. He led off the inning with a double. Coleman not wanting to mess with Martinez, gave the Tigers' DH an intentional walk.

Hunter followed with a fly ball to relatively deep center. Cabrera tagged up did Martinez! Escobar bobbled the cut off throw, both advancing on the play.

Slump be damned, Castellanos then reminded everyone he's a Rookie of the Year candidate by ripping a line shot which rolled to the wall in right center. The two out, two RBI double increased the Tigers' lead to 3-0 ( video).

Smyly's 1-2-3, nine pitch sixth proved he was the anti-Duffy. The Royals' starter was pulled after 75 pitches and four innings. Smyly ended the sixth with the same pitch count.

Smyly kept the train a-rolling in the seventh, striking out Gordon and Valencia to end the inning. He earned the Brad Ausmus version of the "Handshake of Doom," given a seat after seven innings and an economical 93 pitches. The anti-Duffy, indeed.

Joba Chamberlain arrived for eighth inning setup duty. A whole 12 pitches later, the bearded wonder had set the Royals down in order.

Facing Aaron Brooks, who had made his MLB debut in the previous inning, the Tigers would extend their lead. In fact, they would put the game on ice.

Holaday led off by singling to center, then circled the bases on Danny Worth's long double off the wall in right center.

Davis caught the Royals' infield sleeping, laying down a perfect bunt single. He then stole second without a throw. Kinsler drove home the Tigers' fifth run with a sacrifice fly to center. Run number six scored on Cabrera's second hit of the game, a single to center.

Martinez singled, giving Hunter another shot extending his hitting streak. He did more than extend his hitting streak to ten game.  Hunter crushed Brooks' 92 MPH fastball and drilled a three run bomb in to the left field bullpen. Home run number four on the season for the ageless outfielder officially made the game a blowout at 9-0 ( video).

When the dust had finally settled, the Tigers had sent nine to the plate, scoring six runs on six hits (inclusing a bunt single and three run homer), a sacrifice fly,

The Tigers' pitching plans quickly changed with the six run explosion. Instead of a Joe Nathan save opportunity, we got a Phil Coke garbage time appearance.

It was another glorified batting practice outing. Coke allowed two runs on three hits, two for extra bases, before finally ending the game on Valencia's fly ball.

GAME OVER. Your final score is Tigers 9, Royals 2.

Sunday's series finale against the Royals is also the end of the Tigers' road trip. Game three is a battle of the JV's, Justin Verlander (3-1, 2.48 ERA) taking on Jason Vargas (2-0, 2.40 ERA).

Vargas, a soft-tossing lefty with a career 4.22 ERA, is off the best start of his career. The 31-year-old journeyman didn't allow more than two runs in any of his first five starts. Though it's quite likely he's already coming back to earth, being the Blue Jays roughed up Vargas in his last appearance. The Jays knocked him around for five runs and ten hits in 6 1/3 innings, Vargas recording a no-decision.

April was once Verlander's krytonite. That's no longer true. The Tigers' ace is coming off an excellent month with five quality starts in six games. The Tigers beat the White Sox 4-3 in Verlander's last appearance, but he wasn't around to earn a decision, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out four in seven full innings.

Getaway day first pitch is set for 2:10 PM.


Source: FanGraphs


A difference in two lineups, via Andy McCullough of the KC Star: Royals lineup features one player ( Omar Infante) slugging over .400. Tigers' lineup features six. There's also one at .397, higher than every other Royal.

We all missed Rod and Mario tonight.

I ran a Twitter poll on the FS1 crew. On a scale of 1-10, their score was "SUCK."

BREAKING NEWS: Apparently, Tigers starting rotation is pretty good.

We're going streaking!

  • Torii Hunter's home run in his final at-bat pushed his hitting streak to ten games.
  • Miguel Cabrera extended his hitting streak to nine games with his sixth inning double.
  • Victor Martinez's hit streak is now at six games.
  • The Tigers have won four in a row and are 5-1 on the road trip.
  • The last eight games Joba Chamberlain has appeared in have all been Tigers' victories. He's allowed just two runs over his last 10 outings, a stretch that spans 9 1/3 innings.

Not a streak, but worthy of note. Danny Worth's RBI double in the ninth inning was the first run he's driven in since July 19, 2012.


Drew Smyly: Smyly's seven innings pitched tonight is a career best. He allowed just two hits and two walks, again showing why he belongs in the rotation, not the bullpen.

Victor Martinez: The Royals did not want to pitch to Martinez, giving him a pair of intentional walks. But he still come through with two hit and two runs scored on the night.

Miguel Cabrera: Cabrera would have earned a ROAR just for his shocking Alex Gordon into a Delmon Young-esque throw in the fourth. But he also reached base three times on a single, double and walk, drove in a run and scored a second run.


Nick Castellanos: Had the big hit in the game, a two out, two RBI double when the result was still doubt. He was also credited with an RBI when Cabrera fooled everyone and ran on Gordon.

Mr. Sunshine: One of out most prodigious commenters is now the owner of a Masters in Geology. Congrats, good sir!


Ian Kinsler: For two reasons  -  A third inning TOOTBLAN and fifth inning TOOTBLAN. Kinsler's overly aggressive base running was a big reason why Rangers fans soured on him.

Phil Coke: It's to the point where you can't even trust him in a garbage time appearance. In a game which was already over, Brad Ausmus was forced to get Al  Alburquerque up in the pen, just in case. But there is a silver lining when it comes to a Coke appearance...

Aaron Brooks: The Royals' reliever made his major league debut on national TV. It was memorable ... for the Tigers. Brooks allowed six runs and seven hits in his two innings of work. Of course, all six runs and six of the hits came in the ninth, giving the rookie an ERA of 27.00.


Total comments 893
Total commenters 55
Commenter list 42jeff, Alex Baker, AriTwice, AwesomeJackson, BadCompany22, BigAl, Cabbylander, DJ Screw, DSafetyGuy, Designated for Assignment, Emil Sitka, Fielder'sChoice, House by the Side of the Road, InLeylandWeTrust, JWurm, Jacob30, Jim Bunn, JoeK5, Keith-Allen, Kellen Moore Our Savior?, Kurt Mensching, MayoSmith's ghost, Michigan&TrumbullinLA, NCDee, Nonsuch Ned, RealityIsOptionable, SanDiegoMick, Shake Appeal, Singledigit, SpartanHT, Sturgeon Slaw, TN Ben, TheLegacyofJordanTata, Tigerdog1, Verlanderful, XFizzle, aelix, ahtrap, bluesabriel, cmbattershell, digtochina, dimes5, dishnet34, dominator039, frisbeepilot, josejose50, knucklescarbone, madpoopz, mrsunshine, rea, stevenyc, subic sailor, swish330, texastigerfan, tonythetiger
Story URLs


# Commenter # Comments
1 SanDiegoMick 75
2 Kellen Moore Our Savior? 74
3 texastigerfan 73
4 Alex Baker 69
5 mrsunshine 55
6 swish330 53
7 SpartanHT 52
8 Michigan&TrumbullinLA 49
9 NCDee 38
10 Verlanderful 32


# Recs Commenter Comment Link
7 mrsunshine On a related note from yesterday's gamethread
4 NCDee We won!!!
3 bluesabriel Have to share this quickly
2 texastigerfan just Porcello out 2008 and we have had some good baseball to watch since 2006
2 mrsunshine FATALITY
2 swish330 The difference between Prince and Kinsler
2 mrsunshine it's a baker's malek
2 Fielder'sChoice Hey, I have an idea!


Rick Porcello made the most of his run support, holding the Royals to two runs on just four hits over seven innings. That was enough to give Kid Rick PotG honors, taking 69% of the vote.