Plenty of offense was featured in the first matchup of AL Central foes but the Royals got the best of the Tigers, scoring seven runs off of starter Shane Greene. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit another home run to keep the game close, but the Royals vaunted bullpen was able to nail down the win. The Tigers drop to 7-5 on the season, and the Royals retain first place, for now.
Shane Greene's command was his downfall, as not one, but two leadoff walks came back to bite him in the second inning. He nearly escaped the jam with Kendrys Morales dead to rights on a throw to home plate, but the ball bounced high off the dirt basepath and Jarrod Saltalamacchia whiffed on the catch. Instead of escaping unscathed, the inning continued, and the two remaining runners scored on a bloop single by the next batter.
Trouble continued into the third inning, and so did Greene's struggle with the strike zone. He issued two more free passes and allowed two more runs on a double by Salvador Perez. Surprisingly, Greene returned to the mound to post an eight-pitch frame in the fourth.
After allowing a double and hitting a batsman, Greene was pulled in the fifth inning in favor of Blaine Hardy, who served up a three-run home run to Salvador Perez. Two of the runners belonged to Greene, bringing his final line to 4⅓ innings, seven runs, four walks, and two strikeouts. Hardy made 55 appearances before allowing his first home run last year.
The Tigers were able to scrape across two runs in the fifth inning on a double off the bat of Miguel Cabrera. They would reload the bases, but strand all three baserunners for the second of three times on the night. In the seventh inning, with the Tigers trailing 8-2, a single and a walk set the stage for a three-run home run from Jarrod Saltalamacchia, his third in as many games.
The eighth inning was highlighted by panic across the Tigers' fanbase as Victor Martinez fell to the ground in pain after being hit in the knee by a pitch. Replay showed that it was actually his right knee, not the surgically repaired left knee that we feared, so there is plenty of hope that Victor will be fine. The good news is that the bases were loaded, so the hit-by-pitch resulted in a run. The bad news is that J.D. Martinez stranded the bases loaded (again) with a popup.
The Tigers went quietly in the ninth inning to wrap up their fifth loss of the season.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Two-for-four with a walk and a key home run in the seventh inning to keep the game within reach. Salty has been on a tear at the plate.
J.D. Martinez: A single and two walks in four trips to the plate. We'll take that line any day.
Shane Greene: There was definitely an element of bad luck in Greene's performance tonight, but issuing four walks in the first three innings is making yourself prone to bad luck. Greene got himself into bad spots, and it cost him tonight.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Kendrys Morales was thrown out by a country mile in the second inning, and Salty simply botched the catch. Sure, it was a tricky bounce, but that's a play a major leaguer has to make. Despite his offensive contributions, the play resulted in three runs scored and that will get you a hiss every time. Yes, he's in both categories.
Mike Aviles: The only Tigers' starter without a hit, Aviles went 0-for-4 tonight, including a weak flyout with the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Justin Upton's strikeout in the seventh inning (his second of the day) was his 22nd of the season, good enough for second-most in baseball behind only the Rockies' Trevor Story.
- With his single in the fifth inning, Ian Kinsler extended his hit streak to seven games. He has recorded a hit in 11 of the Tigers' 12 games, with six multi-hit games.
- J.D. Martinez has also gotten a hit in 11 of 12 games with his single in the first inning. He drew a walk in his lone hitless game, so he has reached base safely in every game this season.
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia's seventh-inning home run was his first right-handed dinger of the season. It was his fifth overall, and third in his last three games.
- With his two RBI, Miguel Cabrera has tied Jim Rice for 61st-most in MLB history.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: