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Royals 12, Tigers 9: Offense battles but can’t overcome Detroit’s egregious bullpen showing

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Maybin had a four-hit day and Victor Martinez knocked a grand slam, but it still wasn’t enough.

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

DETROIT — With runners on the corners and Miguel Cabrera at the plate, the Tigers had a chance to tie the game after an awful appearance by the pitching staff. Against Wade Davis, though, the Tigers came up just short and lost 12-9 to the Royals.

Matt Boyd wasn’t right from the get-go. Even from the first two batters of the game, his pitches were elevated and he couldn’t command the ball in the zone. Whether there was a preceding concern from the staff, manager Brad Ausmus had the bullpen warming after just 14 pitches. Unfortunately, the damage done before relief could arrive, was thorough.

The bullpen offered little help, either, since Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, and Mike Pelfrey gave up seven runs, to include three homers. The Tigers’ offense refused to give up, but their efforts were rebuffed by an awful showing on the pitching side, and that’s difficult to recover from. Then there’s the decision by Andrew Romine in the third, who lost all conventional wisdom and opted to bunt with the bases loaded. It ended badly.

Nine runs should be more than enough, and on any other day it would have been. Sunday’s game was anything but ordinary, though, and despite the offense’s best efforts, the Tigers couldn’t cover for the bullpen’s sins. If there’s one bright spot for the bullpen, it’s that Jordan Zimmermann had his best outing in a long time. Still, it’s a small flicker.

ROARS:

Victor Martinez: He’s been struggling lately, but he stepped up in a big way with a grand slam in the third inning.

Cameron Maybin: After a three-hit game on Saturday, he had a four-hit day on Sunday, and this time he included a triple. His thumb may not be 100 percent, but it doesn’t appear to matter since he’s been red-hot for much of September.

Top of the offensive order: Hitters 1-5 were 11-for-24 with a grand slam, a triple, three walks, and a double.

Jordan Zimmermann: Three stellar innings of one-run ball on four hits. He struck out four batters and looked crisp, a refreshing change from his frustrating season.

HISSES:

Andrew Romine: For no other reason than this: why in the world would you bunt with the bases loaded?

The pitching staff: Excepting Zimmermann, they gave up 11 runs. Four home runs. As K-Rod would put it: unacceptable.

STATS AND REACTIONS:
  • Maybin is batting .375/.426/.607 in his last 15 games. Included in that are three triples, two doubles, and a home run. He has seven RBI and 13 runs scored. That’s bonkers.
  • Maybin didn’t just have back-to-back three-hit days. He packed in a four-hit day that included a triple. It was his first four-bagger since Aug. 21, 2012 against the Pirates. It’s the ninth time he’s had one in his career.
  • In a not-so-sad moment of the game, Jose Iglesias pinch hit for Romine in the ninth and promptly hit a ground-rule double. The funny part was, he thought it was a homer and twirled his finger to indicate as such — even though it was clear the ball never left the field. Still, it was worth a chuckle.
  • While Maybin saw the ball well all afternoon, it was Wade Davis and he was in the wrong. Maybin struck out looking in the ninth and took umbrage with the call. That continued into the dugout, when he kept chirping at home plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Finally, Iassogna had enough and tossed Maybin with Cabrera at the plate in the most crucial moment of the game. Maybin was so fired up, that Ausmus had to block him from attempting to come up the dugout steps and onto the field.
  • Romine has had this slick black matte Victus bat just chillin’ in his locker. On Saturday, Casey McGehee noticed it and proclaimed that Romine absolutely had to use it. Besides, he’d been 0-for-5 in the two games prior, so what’s to lose. Anyway, Romine used it, and went 0-for-5 on Saturday. He was hitless on Sunday with the failed bases-loaded bunt.

Worse yet, is that a Tigers starter has never done that since at least 1913.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:

Source: FanGraphs