On the cusp of a big early season series win, the Detroit Tigers fell flat in their final game of an eight-game road trip, falling to the Kansas City Royals 4-0 at Kauffman Stadium. This marked the second consecutive Mike Pelfrey start in which the Tigers were shut out.
The Royals got on the board early, scoring a run in a wacky first inning. After a pair of hits to open the frame, Lorenzo Cain hit a sharp line drive into Pelfrey's glove. Pelfrey couldn't handle the liner, scoring a run. The next batter, Eric Hosmer, hit another sharp liner, this one directly to Jose Iglesias, who tagged second base for a double play. After Pelfrey loaded the bases, he induced a Salvador Perez groundout to end the threat. The tally: four hits, one walk, one run.
Pelfrey worked out of another jam in the second, and the next real scoring threat did not come until the top of the fourth. After Justin Upton was robbed by an incredible diving catch by Alex Gordon -- his second excellent defensive play of the game -- Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez reached base with two outs. Nick Castellanos drew a four-pitch walk (!), his first of the season. Volquez was able to work out of the jam, striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia to end the inning.
The Royals made the Tigers pay for squandering by scoring a trio of runs in the bottom of the inning. Omar Infante led off the inning with a double just out of Castellanos' reach, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jarrod Dyson. Alcides Escobar drove in Infante with a sacrifice fly, then Mike Moustakas drilled a solo home run to dead center field. After a couple more runners reached base, Lorenzo Cain scored the Royals' fourth run of the game on another Tigers defensive miscue. While Cain was attempting to steal third base, Castellanos misplayed a Saltalamacchia throw and the ball skittered into left field.
That would be more than enough offense for Royals starter Edinson Volquez, who kept the Tigers off balance all night long. Even the rare hanging pitch didn't come back to bite him, such as when Ian Kinsler doubled in the fifth, but was stranded on base. Volquez went seven innings, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out five. Kelvin Herrera and Danny Duffy tossed a flawless inning apiece to finish off the shutout.
Ian Kinsler: The Tigers' leadoff hitter did his job, reaching base twice, including a double in the fifth inning. Kinsler also made a spectacular diving play on an Alex Gordon ground ball in the fifth inning.
Jose Iglesias: Iggy only went 1-for-3, but made a few excellent defensive plays, including a double play in the first inning that helped Pelfrey skate out of trouble.
The bullpen: Kyle Ryan and Alex Wilson combined for three scoreless innings, which was nice. Ryan was particularly efficient, throwing 17 pitches in two frames.
Mike Pelfrey: After dancing out of trouble time and again in Houston, Pelfrey nearly matched the feat again in this game. Instead, the Royals were able to strike for three runs in the fourth, and four total. Pelfrey still owns a 3.68 ERA on the season, but has allowed 32 baserunners through three starts.
Miguel Cabrera: Something threw off Cabrera's timing at one point, and he hasn't gotten it back yet. Cabrera went 0-for-4 on Thursday, and 2-for-14 in the series.
Tyler Collins: Not only did he go 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but Collins also ran into Justin Upton on a routine fly ball in the seventh inning, well after Upton had clearly called him off. Luckily Upton stayed in the game, but he gave Collins an earful on their way back to the dugout.
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Kinsler is the sixth player in Tigers history to collect nine multi-hit games in the first 14 games of the season. The last player to accomplish this feat was Torii Hunter in 2013.
- Mike Pelfrey has a 3.68 ERA and 2.18 WHIP in 2016.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH: