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Royals 3, Tigers 1: A day of lasts

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In the final game of the year (probably), Jordan Zimmermann’s career with the Tigers comes to a close.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

On a wet Sunday in Kansas City, the Tigers dropped the final game of the four-game series, and (probably) the last game of the year, 3-1 to the Royals.

Jordan Zimmermann’s time in Detroit is likely over come this offseason, which means today is probably the last time I’ll have to look up whether there are two n’s at the end of his name or one. This final dance lasted an inning, and he gave up a single to the nearly-invincible Adalberto Mondesi, but his final batter faced was Salvador Perez, who struck out.

If this is the end, I wish Mr. Zimmermann well. As he himself noted, after he turned thirty, everything started falling apart on his body. I’m nearly 43 and am holding up relatively well, but I tell ya, I can feel it starting.

It was definitely the final game for Alex Gordon, who announced his retirement a few days ago. Gordon started in left field and batted leadoff, and struck out against Zimmermann. His family was present in one of the luxury boxes at Kauffman Stadium, and not a dry eye was to be had amongst the group. Gordon was an instrumental piece in the Royals’ glory days a few years ago, and you have to tip your cap to a solid competitor like that.

Brady Singer started for the Royals, and he gave up a run in the first, but racheted-down afterwards for a total of seven innings, facing the minimum over the last six. You almost wish he’d get traded out of the division so you could watch him do great things from afar, and only have to face him rarely. You like surfing, Brady? I hear San Diego’s got some great waves. And you look fantastic in brown. Think of the possibilities!

The Tigers’ lineup was short-handed today: both Castros were injured in yesterday’s game, and Miguel Cabrera wasn’t in the starting lineup in case there was to be a doubleheader on Monday. As a result the mighty Brandon Dixon, who was in Toledo a few short days ago, was batting cleanup. Dixon doubled in the first to score Daz Cameron, who’d reached on a fielder’s choice. Baseball’s a funny game sometimes.

Tarik Skubal started the second and looked great until Mondesi smacked a long solo home run to start the fourth; at that point he was 11-for-12 with all kinds of extra-base hits and a pair of walks in the series, which is ridiculous. Ryan McBroom led off the fifth with another solo home run off a slider that didn’t quite slide, and put the Royals up 2-1. Skubal’s final line: a fine 5 innings, 6 strikeouts, one walk, and two hits which were both solo home runs.

Joe Jimenez came on for the seventh. His overall numbers look pretty lousy (e.g. an ERA of 7.48 coming into today), but since a terrible outing on September 10 he’s had six appearances, 6 23 innings, 4 hits, 7 strikeouts and no walks. If this is the Jimenez we can see more often, he could be a really valuable part of this bullpen next year. He gave up a harmless single but allowed no other baserunners.

Daniel Norris started the eighth as rain began to fall. He wants to be a starter next year, but what if he was a super-reliever next year? Or maybe a lights-out lefty one-inning bullpen ace? I think it’d be interesting to have him in the bullpen, if that’s where he finds success. We can’t always get what we want. But if we try sometimes, we might find, we get what we need.

Anyway, Mondesi struck again in the eighth, driving in Franchy Cordero on a double to the right-field wall to put the Royals up 3-1. Buck Farmer came in to clean up the mess and limit the damage, and he struck out Perez to do just that.

Jesse Hahn pitched the ninth for the Royals. His 2020 was sensational: coming into today he’d had 17 appearances, 16 13 innings pitched, and a microscopic 0.55 ERA. He walked the newly-recalled Sergio Alcantara to start the ninth, but Victor Reyes and Daz Cameron struck out. Alcantara took second on a wild pitch, but Niko Goodrum struck out to end the season.

If I could Vote for Rookie of the Year...

...my vote would definitely be cast for Willi Castro. He played in 36 games and slashed .349/.381/.550 for an OPS of .932. Sure, his BABIP was an otherworldly .448, so he was definitely lucky, but those numbers have to give him at least a bit of consideration.

Stats, Seedings and Things Left Unsolved

There were several playoff-related things going on during the last (probable) day of regular-season play:

  • If Toronto won and the Yankees lost, the Buffalo Toronto Blue Jays would be the sixth seed in the American League.
  • There’s a possibility that the White Sox could fall to the seventh seed in the American League.
  • If the Cardinals win today, they won’t have to make up a doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday and would have an off day instead before starting the playoffs.
  • If the Cardinals have to play Monday and won the first game, they wouldn’t have to play the second.
  • At this point the Cardinals are leading the Brewers so this is probably the last game of the season. I think I got that right.
  • Wait, I forgot to carry the 3.
  • What’s my name again?

Notes and Numbers

  • Alex Gordon’s final career line: 1753 games, .257 BA, .749 OPS, 7 Gold Gloves. The first pitcher he faced in his major-league career? Curt Schilling, who struck him out swinging.
  • Jordan Zimmermann’s final line: 95-91 record, 4.06 ERA, two All-Star appearances for the Nationals. The first batter he faced? Atlanta’s Kelly Johnson, who flied out to left.
  • On this day in 1999, the final game was played at Tiger Stadium. As you might remember, Robert Fick smashed a grand slam, the 11,111th home run in the stadium’s history.