In a season that has brought the Detroit Tigers such frustrating Kansas City “Tiger Killers” such as Jorge Soler and Whit Merrifield, perhaps the most frustrating one of them all has been Jacob Junis. The pitcher that everyone else but the Tigers can figure out dominated them once again. An early lead was quickly squashed, and the Tigers were held down effortlessly as the Royals came back and beat the Tigers 5-4.
Things started off well for the Tigers tonight as they faced their Kansas City nemesis. In the second inning, they struck for three runs on four straight hits. Christin Stewart (single), Jeimer Candelario (double), Harold Castro (2 RBI double), and Dawel Lugo (RBI single) ambushed Junis and gave the Tigers a quick 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, just as quickly as the sudden bust of offense appeared, it vanished back into the void the Tigers’ lineup seems to exist in with Junis on the mound. The Royals right hander cruised for the next four innings on just one hit and three strikeouts to secure a quality start. The highlight of the Tigers brief rally were these moves by third base coach Dave Clark.
Meanwhile, Edwin Jackson did his best to turn back the clock again and he looked initially like he would be successful, making it though the first three frames without giving up a run, though the third inning was stressful. He started to crack in the fourth inning, as it was the Royals turn to string together multiple hits (three singles) to get on the board. A wild pitch under the glove of Jake Rogers cut the Tigers lead to one. Jackson almost got through a bounce-back fifth inning but then Jorge Soler murdered the first pitch he saw to tie the game with his 40th home run. A triple and a single to follow would give the Royals the lead.
Soler’s homer ended the Royals’ reign as the last team never to have had a 40 home run hitter.
Nick Ramirez relieved Jackson to start the sixth inning, but proved ineffective in keeping Kansas City off the board. He would strike out two batters, but in between them came a double and an RBI single to widen the lead. John Schreiber came on to get the final out of the inning on a strikeout. However he ran right into trouble in the next inning, putting the first two runners on before getting lifted with one out. Daniel Stumpf replaced him and promptly settled things down by picking Hunter Dozier off second base in unassisted fashion and then getting a flyout to end the inning.
Manager Ned Yost actually sent Junis out to start the eighth inning, the first time this year he has pitched into the eighth inning, but a leadoff walk ended his night. The Tigers followed with another walk to put two on with one out, threatening to cut into the Royals lead. Willi Castro struck out, but Miguel Cabrera followed and got the job done with a check swing bliner down the right field line. Third base coach Dave Clark held Victor Reyes at third, which appeared to be the right move, but it left things in the hands of Christin Stewart, who lined out to second base.
That was as close as they’d get. Ian Kennedy pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to end the game and serve the Tigers another series loss.
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