The Detroit Tigers opened their final home series of the 2018 season with a four-game set against the last place Kansas City Royals on Thursday, who came to town nine games behind Detroit in the standings. Detroit had to like their chances with Matthew Boyd on the mound, having won his last three starts, against the Royals’ Jorge Lopez. Boyd didn’t make it out of the second inning, but the Tigers’ offense picked him up with an offensive explosion to take an 11-8 slugfest on Thursday night at Comerica Park.
Christin Stewart led the charge with the first two home runs of his major league career, to go with six RBI. Nicholas Castellanos added a solo shot as part of a 14-hit attack for Detroit.
The Royals opened the scoring in the first inning when Whit Merrifield led off with a double and Hunter Dozier reached base on an error by third baseman Ronnie Rodriguez. With two outs, the Royals attempted a double steal. Replays seemed to show that Merrifield was out at third, but he was called safe and the Tigers didn’t challenge. Kansas City cashed in with a three run homer by Jorge Bonifacio to give them a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers clawed back in the bottom half of the first inning when JaCoby Jones led off with a single. Christin Stewart hit his first career home run, and Nick Castellanos followed with a solo shot to tie the game. Victor Martinez doubled to deep right-center field, but was erased when Jim Adduci hit into a fielder’s choice with Martinez trapped between second and third. Rodriguez hit a ground rule double, pushing Adduci to third, and Grayson Greiner sacrificed him home to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
The lead didn’t last long, as Boyd gave up a single to Alcides Escobar and a two-run homer to Brian Goodwin to put the Royals back on top, 5-4. After Boyd surrendered a pair of one-out singles to Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, his day was done. He left after just 1 1⁄3 innings, with six hits and six runs allowed (but just two earned), one strikeout, and no walks. Zac Reininger came on in relief and retired the next two batters to end the inning.
The Tigers fought back again in the bottom of the second with a leadoff double by Pete Kozma. Jones singled him to third, and Stewart blasted his second home run of the game (and of his career), a three-run blast over 400 feet to right field. Glenn Sparkman relieved Lopez, but that didn’t slow down the Tigers’ assault.
Castellanos greeted the new pitcher with a triple into the gap, and scored on Martinez’s second double of the game. Adduci and Rodriguez grounded out, and Greiner singled Martinez in from third for his second RBI to give the Tigers a 9-5 lead.
Each pitcher held hitters scoreless in the third frame, but the Royals struck again in the fourth on a single by Merrifield, his third hit of the game, and a two-run homer off the bat of Dozier, to cut the Tigers lead to 9-7. Reininger was replaced by Buck Farmer, who got Salvador Perez to ground out to third to end the inning.
Farmer worked around an infield single and an error by Adduci to keep the Royals off the board in the fifth inning. Victor Alcantara retired the side in order in the sixth. Ben Lively came on in relief and returned the favor for Kansas City, leaving the score at 9-7 after six frames. Alex Wilson pitched a scoreless seventh frame to keep it that way.
With two outs in the bottom half of the seventh, Greiner walked, and moved to second when Dawel Lugo reached on an error. Victor Reyes pinch ran for Greiner and scored on a single by Kozma, with Lugo moving to third. After Jacoby Jones walked, Stewart drew a base on balls, forcing in a run for his sixth RBI of the day. Castellanos grounded out to leave the bases loaded, but the Tigers had plated two more runs for an 11-7 lead.
After Joe Jimenez struck out the side in the eighth, Shane Greene came on with a four-run lead in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Mondesi to close the gap to 11-8. Greene struck out Dozier, hit Perez with a pitch, and got Bonifacio to fly out to left field. Perez moved to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded when Rosell Herera flew out to Jones on the warning track to seal the Tigers’ victory.
The two teams will go at it again on Friday with the Tigers sending Francisco Liriano out to face the Royals’ Ian Kennedy.
Who was the Tigers’ player of the game
This poll is closed
Christin Stewart, 2 HR, 6 RBI