The Tigers couldn’t figure out Jakob Junis again, and their meager early lead evaporated late once the bullpen came in. Thanks to frustratingly bad defense at key moments in the late innings and an offense that could not start anything the rest of the game, the Tigers saw a close win turn into another loss by a final score of 3-2.
Facing Junis, a pitcher that holds a 5.73 ERA and .351 wOBA against all teams not named “Tigers” this year, Detroit did what they usually do on offense: basically nothing. Nicholas Castellanos put the Tigers up early when he drilled the first pitch he saw over the left-center field wall. The Tigers collected single hits in the second and third innings, but would not score again until the fourth. With one out, Brandon Dixon squared up a fastball up in the zone and smashed it deep to left and into the fountains, increasing the Tigers’ lead to 2-0. But the Tigers could not get anything else started against Junis. He wound up going seven innings and giving up five hits and no walks while collecting five strikeouts.
Spencer Turnbull took full advantage of an injured and slumping Kansas City lineup. He shut out the Royals over six innings, giving up only four hits and two walks while striking out five. His slider and curveball kept the Royals off balance most of the night, while his fastball had its usual late life, though he battled his command on it from time to time. He was in line for the win when he left the game after six frames.
Sadly, his great outing would be all for naught as the Tigers’ bullpen and offense could not get him the win. Things started to go south as soon as the bullpen got to participate in the contest. Blaine Hardy served up a solo home run to Ryan O’Hearn in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the lead in half. Then, after a double off Daniel Stumpf in the eighth, manager Ron Gardenhire turned to Victor Alcantara to end the threat, but he could not do that. Jorge Soler doubled in the tying run, then got lifted for professional pinch-hitter Terrance Gore, who promptly stole third base. Alcantara should then have gotten out of the jam on a short pop-up to right field. However, Nicholas Castellanos and John Hicks assumed each other had the line to the ball, which meant the ball fell in between them, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Ian Kennedy took over in the top of the ninth and set down the Tigers in order to cap a frustrating game, which will go down as yet another loss in a miserable 2019 season.
Adding injury to insult
Niko Goodrum left the game in the third inning when he fouled a ball off his right knee. He struck out to end the at bat, and then was replaced by Gordon Beckham in the bottom of the inning. Goodrum is day-to-day with a right knee bruise, according to the team.
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