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Royals 8, Tigers 7: Miguel Cabrera crushes, Michael Fulmer falters

For the second night in a row, a late-inning Tigers comeback wasn’t quite enough.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The final series of the season for the Detroit Tigers — unless there’s a make-up doubleheader on Monday — opened with a 8-7 loss against the Kansas City Royals.

Michael Fulmer’s 2020 season needs to be viewed with a grain of salt. He’ll take a full season to recover from Tommy John surgery, at least. While you hope he’d would be able to put together a solid set of starts to end this abbreviated season, in two of his previous three starts he hadn’t been able to get out of the third. This start would be like those, unfortunately.

Whit Merrifield continued to be a thorn in the side of the Tigers by singling and stealing second in the first. An infield bunt single and a three-run homer from Salvador Perez put the Tigers in a 3-0 hole with nary an out recorded.

So, about Merrifield: I know it always seems like he’s had the Tigers’ number. I checked his career splits, and his career slash line against all opponents is .295/.343/.445, for an OPS of .788, which isn’t bad at all. Against the Tigers in his career, drum roll please... yep, .353/.385/.600 for a .985 OPS. In an even 300 at-bats coming into tonight: 11 home runs, 41 RBI, 20 stolen bases, and seven triples to twist the ol’ knife. His OPS against fellow AL Central rivals Chicago, Minnesota and Cleveland: .811, .804 and .692, respectively. Le sigh.

The Tigers threatened but did not score in the second, off Kris Bubic (BOO-bich), whose name is infinitely fun to say because I’m twelve inside my head. Of note: Isaac Paredes drew a walk! That goes in my diary. In the third, Willi Castro easily carried the bullpen in left after Victor Reyes led off the inning on a bunt single to narrow the gap to 3-2.

Fulmer’s evening started going off the rails in earnest in the bottom of the third: a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly made it 4-2, and Tyler Alexander was brought in with one out and runners on the corners. Then this happened:

Jeimer Candelario left the game in the bottom of the fourth. It was later announced that he had “low back tightness and is listed day-to-day.” As Vin Scully once opined about outlooks like Candelario’s, “Aren’t we all?”

Miguel Cabrera tied the game with his tenth home run — wait, he has THAT many now?! That’s super! — to straight-away centre, a long, long way. This was after Bubic came in a little too high-and-tight for Cabrera’s liking earlier in the at-bat, and what better revenge can a hitter get than to hit one 450 feet?

In reference to Franchy Cordero, who took a few steps back in vain on Cabrera’s home run, Jim Price noted, “He’d need to get a taxi to get that one.”

Alexander gave up a leadoff home run to Maikel Franco in the sixth to end his night, which was a shame because he’d done so well over 2 2/3 innings. Gregory Soto came on to walk Hunter Dozier and allowed a long double to Jorge Soler to make it 6-4 for the Royals. Soto continued to stink it up, so Joe Jimenez was summoned as a replacement. Adalberto Mondesi then hit a single. It was Mondesi’s fourth hit of the night. The score became 8-4. The Royals batted around. I wondered what else was on. But no! I owed a recap to the universe... and, this being baseball, truly anything is possible.

Things got very interesting in the top of the eighth. A trio of singles by Austin Romine, Victor Reyes and Willi Castro made it 8-5. Yet another single on a fat fastball drove in Reyes and pushed Willi Castro up to third. Harold Castro then pinch-hit for Jorge Bonifacio (who had earlier replaced Candelario), and one Castro drove in another with a single to make it a one-run game. Niko Goodrum then struck out to end the threat.

Buck Farmer walked Alex Gordon to start the bottom of the eighth, who was bunted over to second (insert bunting debate here) and was wild-pitched to third. Who was up with two outs and Gordon on third base? None other than the aforementioned pest Merrifield... who grounded out to third.

It was still a one-run game, though, with Jake Newberry on the mound for the Royals to try to get his first career save. Brandon Dixon and Romine struck out, and Isaac Paredes grounded out to third, and that was the game.

Old Friend/Current Family Alert

Andrew Romine is back in the bigs!

Fare Thee Well

Gordon announced that he was going to be retiring at the end of the season, and he has exactly one thing on his mind.

I don’t know, man, he looks pretty ripped. I think he could probably have a Hot-and-Ready every now and again and still do just fine.

Notent Notables:

  • Coming into the game, the number of walks Salvador Perez had obtained so far this season was one less than the number of bullet-points in this section.
  • The three biggest outfield surfaces in Major League Baseball, by area: Colorado, Detroit and Kansas City.
  • Have you seen this pitch thrown by Devin Williams that he calls an “Airbender?” This is a supercut of what is a circle change thrown with a bit of screwball action in the wrist. It’s mesmerizing.
  • Today would have been Phil Hartman’s 72nd birthday. His talent was practically limitless: not only was he a prolific comedic actor, but he was a graphic artist who made his mark in the 1970s designing album covers for several notable bands.