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Royals 4, Tigers 1: Bullpen falters again as Kansas City sweeps Detroit

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Anibal Sanchez allowed one hit, but the Tigers couldn’t avoid a sweep.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, but a bullpen meltdown from Justin Wilson and Shane Greene — combined with another poor effort from the Detroit Tigers offense — turned a 1-0 lead into a 4-1 deficit, and the Kansas City Royals capped off a three-game sweep at Comerica Park.

Sanchez had Tigers fans on eggshells after allowing four home runs in a loss to the Texas Rangers last Friday, but started off this game strong, retiring the first 12 batters he faced. Walks to Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon were Sanchez’s only blemishes through six innings, and he tallied eight strikeouts along the way.

Meanwhile, Royals starter Yordano Ventura was dancing out of trouble for most of the evening. Victor Martinez hit a solo home run to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the second inning, and Miguel Cabrera hit a sharp ground ball with two runners on in the third. Unfortunately, Cabrera’s rocket was right at second baseman Raul Mondesi, and the Tigers did not add to their lead. Ventura’s final line was sharp, but the Tigers had a few chances to add runs and could not capitalize.

Hosmer broke up Sanchez’s no-hit bid in the seventh with a double off the left field wall, but Sanchez was able to finish off Royals DH Kendrys Morales to make it through seven strong innings. In the eighth, Justin Wilson allowed a solo homer to Alex Gordon, tying the score at one. Hosmer hurt the Tigers again with a two-run shot in the ninth off reliever Shane Greene, giving the Royals the lead for good.

The Tigers are now four games back in the wild card with the Boston Red Sox coming to town on Thursday.

ROARS:

Anibal Sanchez: I certainly didn’t expect Sanchez to flirt with a no-hitter tonight, but he did, and deserved far better than this result.

Victor Martinez: Martinez the elder had two hits, including the solo shot that proved to be Detroit’s only run on the night.

J.D. Martinez: J.D. finished with three hits, but was stranded on base each time.

HISSES:

Justin Wilson and Shane Greene: I mean, clearly.

The Tigers offense: They’re playing short-handed right now, but the last week has been rather painful to watch.

STATS AND REACTIONS:
  • It seems odd to say, but Sanchez’s outing in Texas might be the outlier at this point. Yes, he has faced some weak offenses along the way, but he’s going to face a lot more of those with the Tigers’ weak September schedule ahead.
  • Speaking of weak upcoming schedules, the Tigers have a chance to do some damage down the stretch. The Red Sox, Orioles, and Blue Jays have several games left against one another, and the Yankees are no slouch in that division either. Of course, if the Tigers want to get back into the playoff hunt, they have to beat teams like the Royals...
  • Erick Aybar got a nice reception from the home crowd before his first at-bat. Think Tigers fans are happy about that trade?
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

Source: FanGraphs