A series sweep seemed likely coming into Sunday’s series finale between the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals; probable pitcher Homer Bailey has locked down the Tigers in two starts this season and Jordan Zimmermann has looked worse with every passing start.
However, with less than one hour before first pitch, Bailey was scratched and traded to the Oakland Athletics. Former Tigers farmhand Brian Flynn stepped in for the Royals to make his a spot-start — his first since 2016.
Detroit did not let the opportunity to capitalize pass and launched an offensive assault, snapping their five-game losing streak.
Things got off to an encouraging start when Nicholas Castellanos and Christin Stewart hit back-to-back doubles to grab an early one-run lead before Zimmermann did as Zimmermann does, allowing a three-spot to Kansas City in the bottom half of the first.
Then the third inning happened.
With six hits and two HBPs — including a three-run double by Jeimer Candelario and a two-run home run from Gordan Beckham — the Tigers scored seven runs in the frame, their most in a single inning this season. Detroit had only scored seven runs in an entire game 12 times in 87 games all season before Sunday.
Despite adding runs in the fourth and fifth to take a 10-4 lead, the score was just barely Zim-proof. He was in line for his first win of the season entering the fifth inning and needed only three outs to qualify but allowed four consecutive hits and three runs to cross before being pulled for Nick Ramirez who collected those three outs on two pitches, escaping the fifth with a three-run advantage.
The Tigers outscored their adversary 2-1 from there and Shane Greene locked down the ninth inning, securing their first post-break victory.
The team collected their most runs (12) and hits (19) in a single game since April 2018.
Every batter in Detroit’s lineup collected at least one hit, six had at least two and both Harold Castro and Niko Goodrum had four hits apiece.
It was Castro’s first career four-hit game and fifth for Goodrum (including one five-hit game.)
Winning is fun, therefore this game was fun. The ugly part, though, is that not much fun has been had lately. Sunday was only the team’s fifth win since June 13.
Zimmermann continues to be a liability both on the payroll and the mound. Sunday was his sixth game in 11 starts this season allowing at least four earned runs and his second consecutive with seven runs, jolting his ERA up to 7.01.