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Tigers 6, Royals 5: Starving Tigers feast on K.C. barbecue

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Warwick Saupold really saved the Tigers’ bacon.

MLB: Spring Training-Baltimore Orioles at Detroit Tigers Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t easy, but the Detroit Tigers salvaged a rough outing from Matt Boyd with some stellar long relief and a offensive breakout to take the series with the Kansas City Royals 2-1.

Things got off to an unpleasant, and wholly familiar start for Tigers fans. In the first inning, with one out, Lorenzo Cain doubled into the left field corner. Eric Hosmer then clipped a swinging bunt toward shortstop that Matt Boyd easily fielded. Unfortunately, Boyd took way too long looking for Cain and failed to get Hosmer at first. The baseball gods disapproved. And a series of weakly hit singles made the score 3-0 Royals.

Victor Martinez led off the top of the second with a solo shot into the right field corner, providing a bit of early spark the Tigers needed right then. Ian Kennedy loaded the bases in the top of third with control issues, and a J.D. Martinez double scored a pair. Justin Upton led followed suit with a two-RBI double of his own to make it 5-3. Unfortunately, Upton suffered a mild right quad strain, as reported on the FSD broadcast, out on the basepaths, and had to be lifted for Mikie Mahtook.

That long third inning surprisingly knocked Ian Kennedy from the game after 71 pitches. Sinkerballer Seth Maness came on in long relief. He only picked up two outs before Alex Avila cracked an opposite field solo shot to make it 6-3 Tigers.

Matt Boyd just did not have it, however. After Alcides Escobar nearly took his head off with an RBI single to centerfield in the fourth, Ausmus had seen enough. Just 63 pitches into his outing, having allowed four runs on seven hits, with just one strikeout, Boyd’s day was done. Question marks about the security of his rotation spot will abound after this one.

The Tigers TBDNS in the fifth, which I mention only because they pulled off a double steal in that inning with Nick Castellanos going to third and Alex Presley to second. Haven’t seen that too often.

Warwick Saupold came on in early relief of Boyd and absolutely stymied the Royals for three innings without a hard hit ball. Alcides Escobar finally singled to left off Saupold with two outs in the seventh, and Shane Greene came on to clean up the inning with a strikeout of Lorenzo Cain.

Alex Wilson scared everyone to death in the eighth. Two-out singles from Jorge Bonifacio and Whit Merrifield had runners on the corners. Alex Avila then cost the Tigers a run allowing a passed ball on a breaking ball to score Bonifacio. Wilson himself may have compounded the issue by failing to break to cover home plate in time. They did escape without further damage, but turned over just a one-run lead to Justin Wilson to save.

Justin Wilson allowed a one-out single to Alex Gordon, before striking out Alcides Escobar to get to the final out. Wilson got Lorenzo Cain to pop-up, and Jose Iglesias put it in his back pocket as the Tigers got a much needed series win.

Roars

J.D. Martinez: Continues functioning as the heart of the Tigers offense.

Alex Avila: Another bomb, more walks, Avila’s offensive production continues unchecked. The beard is so thick, so dark...so powerful. He also gunned down Alcides Escobar trying to steal second in the fifth. There was also a nice sliding grab of a pop-up beyond the visitors on-deck circle.

Warwick Saupold: The Tigers needed a great long relief appearance and they got one. Saupold had the Royals pounding the ball in the dirt with excellent location and a hard, sharp slider.

Hisses

Matt Boyd: Just could not command anything once again, forcing him to come in with fastballs down in counts. The Royals didn’t hit him that hard, but they hit him often. May be time for a stint in Toledo to get himself sorted out.

Stats and Reaction

When was the Tigers’ last double steal???