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Royals 6, Tigers 2: Quiet offense unable to overcome Anibal Sanchez's rough start

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A strong day for Victor Martinez and quality at-bats by J.D. Martinez were not enough against the Royals.

Leon Halip/Getty Images

DETROIT -- Facing typically hittable Kansas City Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, the Detroit Tigers offense mysteriously found no answers. Anibal Sanchez's struggles started from the first pitch, and while he ended with two solid innings, the Tigers lost 6-2 after the righthander put Detroit in an early hole they couldn't climb out of.

First pitch. Home run. That's how the day started for Sanchez (2-4). By the end of the first inning the Tigers were in a 2-0 hole, and by the end of the second it was a 4-1 deficit. Sanchez's command was nonexistent, and his pitches had no life to them. And when he did find the strike zone, the Royals bludgeoned Sanchez by spraying hits all over the ballpark. By the end of four innings Sanchez had put the Tigers in a 6-1 hole.

Sanchez did end his night on a high note, retiring the last seven batters he faced, striking out the last batter of his outing. But the damage was done and Sanchez ended his day having given up six runs (five earned) on nine hits, three walks and a home run on 99 pitches. Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque, and Joba Chamberlain then combined to give the Tigers three scoreless innings of four-hit ball. Chamberlain allowed a two-out triple up the left-center gap, but struck out two and induced a weak 4-3 groundout to end the top of the ninth.

The Tigers' offense, well, it had issues. Facing Guthrie, whom it has lit up light a Christmas tree in outings past, the Tigers had a mere two runs to show for it. It wasn't that they didn't get hits, they just swung too early and too often, stranding those who did threaten to score on multiple occasions. Six of the Tigers' batters got a hit, but Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera, and Andrew Romine were silent at the plate. As a result, of the eight hits the Tigers got, only two runs scored and eight runners were stranded.

ROARS:

Yoenis Cespedes: Was 2-for-4 with a double midst a quiet Tigers' offense. He also gunned down former Tiger Omar Infante, who was attempting to score from second. Infante was out long before he reached home plate and Cespedes saved Hardy from what could've been a messy inning.

J.D. Martinez: After a brutal 0-for-25 hitless streak, Martinez got on-base twice, his first breaking the skid. The at-bat lasted just four pitches, but the result was a scorched opposite field single. The pitch before he fouled off just before the single was well hit, and Martinez just missed nailing the pitch before it, for a foul tip. As for the five-pitch walk, J.D. laid off several close pitches that he had been swinging through not long ago.

Nick Castellanos: Drove in both of the Tigers' runs, a sacrifice fly in the second and an RBI triple in the sixth inning. Defensively, he also made a nice play on a nasty hop early in the game to prevent runs from scoring at the time.

Victor Martinez: Finished 2-for-4 with a double, his first unassisted double of the year, also the first while batting left-handed. It wasn't pretty watching him run on the bases, but Martinez seems to be getting himself back into the swing of things (no pun intended).

HISSES:

Anibal Sanchez: Gave up four runs on six hits, including a home run and two doubles, in the first two innings. He also hit a batter to start the third.

Nine through three hitters: Combined, Romine, Anthony Gose, Kinsler, and Cabrera finished 1-for-16 with a strikeout. Add in a first pitch out in the ninth inning by pinch-hitter Rajai Davis and you go up to 1-for-17. The lone hit was a double off the bat of Gose that never came around to score because of Cabrera's groundout to end the fifth.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • J.D. Martinez's walk in the fourth gave him seven in his last four games. He also broke an 0-for-25 skid with a screaming line drive to right field in the second inning.
  • Victor Martinez's double in the sixth inning was just his third double of the season, and his first non-ground rule double of the year. It was also his first double batting left-handed, as the other two doubles came as a right-handed batter.
  • Anibal Sanchez's six runs (five earned) allowed on Saturday marked the first time in Sanchez's career that he's given up more than three runs in a start to the Royals.
  • Yoenis Cespedes' two hits marked his 11th multi-hit game of the season, as well as his 11th double of the season in the fourth. His 11 doubles are tied with Seattle Mariners' Robinson Cano for the American League lead.
  • James McCann's second-inning single gave him a career-high seven-game hitting streak. Over his last seven games, McCann is batting .462 with three runs scored, a double, a home run, and three RBI.
  • Blaine Hardy has not allowed a run in his last six outings, and has given up just two hits in his last 4 2/3 innings pitched.
  • Saturday's attendance of 41,456 marked the second sellout of the season for the Tigers, the first since Opening Day.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs