The first early season showdown between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals was no contest at all. The Royals flexed their new-found power, blowing the doors off the game with a five-run fifth inning, while the Tigers offensive was stifled all night long. With the 8-1 victory over Detroit, the Royals take over first place in the A.L. Central division by a slender half-game margin.
Through four starts, Alfredo Simon (4-1) was the Tigers best starter. The other shoe dropped on Thursday as Simon was lit up for six earned runs. Simon struck out six, but the Royals battled him all night, fighting off numerous two-strike pitches before breaking though in the third inning. An RBI double by Mike Moustakas was followed by an Eric Hosmer missile to straightaway center field for a two-run home run.
After escaping a bases loaded jam in the fourth, Simon went down for the count in the fifth after back-to-back RBI doubles by Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez. Alex Wilson in relief allowed three consecutive weak singles that found a home, and the Tigers were down 8-0 by the merciful end of the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, the Tigers could get nothing going offensively. Royals starter Danny Duffy pounded the strike zone with a ton of first pitch strikes, but the normally aggressive Tigers couldn't take advantage. It wasn't until the eighth inning that Jose Iglesias, as he so often has this season, provided a little spark by drilling a triple up the gap in left-center. A Rajai Davis single scored Iglesias and prevented a shut-out.
All-in-all a lousy start to this four-game set in Kansas City. Kyle Lobstein will hope to do much better than Simon as he duels spot starter Chris Young on Friday night.
Victor Martinez: While the power hasn't yet returned, Victor posted a two-hit game with a pair of sharply hit singles.
Jose Iglesias: We didn't quite get the full magic tonight, but Iggy smoked a triple in the eighth and scored the run to break up Duffy's shutout bid. Also nearly pulled off a brilliant play in the sixth on a diving stop that would've ended the Royals rally.
Alfredo Simon: Simon could only survive 4 1/3 innings and was clubbed for six earned runs. He allowed himself to become preoccupied with Lorenzo Cain on second base in the fifth and promptly gave up a pair of long RBI doubles that ended his night.
J.D. Martinez: J.D. had a very rough night at the dish, striking out three times with runners on-base.
Streaks and Stats:
- Jose Iglesias now has seven extra-base hits in 69 at-bats on the young season and has hit safely in 12 of his last 15 games.
- With his single tonight, Miguel Cabrera tied Juan Pierre for 177th all-time hits with 2217.
- Yoenis Cespedes' 0-for-4 night snapped his five-game hitting streak.
- Victor Martinez two singles give him six hits in his past six games.
Win Probability Graph: