Game three of a four-game set between the AL Central-leading Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers saw the Tigers try to work towards a split, as the Royals had taken the first two games. Despite some generally good pitching by the Tigers all series and again today, the bats just haven’t been there and today was no exception as the Royals won, 4-0.
Michael Fulmer started for the Tigers, after only three days of rest. His last start was a four-inning, three-run, 60-pitch outing against the Pirates in the first game of this past Wednesday’s doubleheader. The plan all along was for him to take part in a “tandem start,” with Tarik Skubal coming in to take care of a bunch of lefties at a predetermined time.
Fulmer’s first inning saw him walk a pair of Royals, and a wild pitch moved them over to second and third; Fulmer struck out Ryan O’Hearn to end the threat. Fulmer’s second inning was much less eventful, thankfully, and his third inning only took six pitches to complete. That would be the end of Fulmer’s day, as planned.
Final line for Michael Fulmer: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 36 pitches.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) April 25, 2021
Tarik Skubal enters in the fourth inning of a 0-0 game.
Only half of Fulmer’s pitches were strikes, so there’s some room for improvement there.
Veteran lefty Danny Duffy started for the Royals, and Duffy’s season so far has been sensational: three starts, 18 IP, 1.111 WHIP and a 0.50 ERA. Part of this could be the speed that Duffy has added on his fastball this year, making his offspeed stuff more tantalizing; his fastball was touching 95 mph at times. Notably, Duffy essentially uses a slide-step with every pitch.
Skubal started the fourth and promptly hit Jorge Soler on a pitch that bounced, but then came back to strike out the next pair of hitters. He hit 97 mph on his fastball, which is fun, but if he’s going to have any success this season he’s going to have to keep his walks down.
Niko Goodrum led off the fourth with a sharp single to right, but he got caught stealing by the slide-step, the strong arm of Salvador Perez, and a quick tag by Whit Merrifield. Jeimer Candelario followed with a bloop single, and Wilson Ramos pushed him to third with a single of his own. Alas, a Willi Castro strikeout ended this small, isolated stretch of offensive excitement for which Tiger fans have longed for quite some time, and the score remained knotted at goose-eggs.
Michael A. Taylor led off the fifth with a single, was bunted (?!) to second, stole third, and came home on a Merrifield bloop single to centre. He stole second, but Perez lined out softly to end the inning and keep the score 1-0. Tiger pitchers today seemed to be relatively unconcerned with Royals runners stealing bases and catcher Wilson Ramos has only thrown one would-be base stealer out on the year.
With two out in the sixth, Hunter Dozier (batting .115 so far this season) hit a line-drive solo homer to left-center to make it 2-0 for Kansas City, and that felt like a pretty big run. A single to centre by Andrew Benintendi ended Skubal’s day and Bryan Garcia came in; Benintendi took second when a slider hit Ramos’ right wrist and scooted away. Fortunately, Taylor grounded out to second to end the inning without further incident.
Duffy’s day was done after five, and Kyle Zimmer started the sixth. Tiger hitters were probably happy to see Duffy depart, but Zimmer picked right up where Duffy left off, inducing a pair of grounders to second and striking out Miguel Cabrera.
Jake Brentz took over for Zimmer for the seventh, and Willi Castro had a two-out single to centre, but Jonathan Schoop struck out and the Tigers’ offensive futility continued. Also, folks, I really wish I had more visual highlights to break up these long stretches of text, but that’s the kind of game it was, really.
Alex Lange’s debut Major League season continued with his appearance in the eighth. Aside from his lousy outing on April 15 against Oakland, Lange has been quite good so far this spring. With two outs and runners on the corners, Lange struck out Taylor looking on a slider at the top of the strike zone to end the threat.
George “Buck” Farmer started the ninth; Nicky Lopez and Merrifield started the inning with singles, to put runners on first and third. Merrifield stole second, and Carlos Santana’s single to centre scored both runners to make it 4-0. This was Farmer’s eighth appearance this season, and I could make the argument that exactly one of them has been good (April 14 in Houston); how much longer can the Tigers keep him around, really? Daniel Norris was summoned to face Jarrod Dyson, who he struck out looking.
Wade Davis faced the 2-3-4 Tiger hitters in the ninth: strikeout, popup, a Jeimer Candelario walk, groundout.
Tomorrow afternoon is also a matinee affair, with Spencer Turnbull facing Brad Keller.
Welcome back, Miggy!
He was away, and now he’s back; he started at first base today. Expect some scheduled days off in the near future, as per AJ Hinch.
We’d all love to see his bat get going, or any bat really.
Non-Tigers baseball news
If you haven’t been paying attention to those Padres-Dodgers games we’ve had lately, you have been missing out on some solid baseball. I caught a bit of last night’s game, a 6-5 Dodgers win, and you could just feel the tension. Those games have a playoff atmosphere that makes one rather nostalgic for meaningful baseball.
A Variety of Minutiae
- The Tigers had a record of 6-6 when they left Houston, which seems like eons ago.
- Through the first three games of this series, noted Tiger-killer Whit Merrifield has been held to 4 hits in 14 at-bats — that isn’t great, but it’s an improvement on what he normally does against Detroit.
- On this day in 1599, Oliver Cromwell was born. Cromwell led his armies to overthrow the British Crown in the 1650s, briefly making the British Isles a republic and ultimately executing King Charles I. Cromwell died in 1658; his no-good son couldn’t hold onto the Commonwealth, and Charles II came back to power. Because he was the King of England, Charles ordered Oliver’s body dug up so it could be properly beheaded.