Saturday evening at Kauffman Stadium the Tigers saw their four-game win streak come to an end at the hands of the Royals in a 7-5 loss. Originally slated to start at 4:10 p.m. EDT, a rain delay pushed the start back by 80 minutes. The Royals’ offense didn’t delay in putting runs on the board, however, getting a pair in the first and then forcing the Tigers to play from behind the rest of the game.
Robbie Grossman had another multi-hit game with his biggest knock coming in the ninth off of the Royals fireballing closer Josh Staumont, a two-run homer to the bullpen in right field. That served as a catalyst for the real drama to unfold, as Harold Castro singled and Jeimer Candelario walked off Staumont to bring Miguel Cabrera to the plate with no outs. After Friday’s heroics, the Tigers couldn’t have a better man up with runners on base and the game on the line. Because baseball is cruel, all it took was one pitch from Staumont to induce a weak pop out to right field from Cabrera.
The game was far from over though, and Niko Goodrum followed Cabrera with a sharp single to right field to load the bases. Still down 7-5, the Tigers had two outs to score two runs. Jonathan Schoop then fouled off four pitches before working the count full, but took a 98 MPH offering on the inside part of the plate to punch out looking. Down to their last out, the Tigers somewhat controversially sent Willi Castro to the plate in the midst of an 0-4 day instead of a pinch hitter in the form of Eric Haase. Castro quickly went down 0-2, swinging first pitch at a fastball down and then watching a hanging curveball drop for a strike. He fouled off another high curveball on the outer edge, and then struck out on a 100 MPH fastball inches below the strike zone to end the game.
The opportunities were there for the Tigers, but they just weren’t able to capitalize enough to pull ahead. The seventh inning was basically a carbon copy of Friday’s, with the bases loaded and Cabrera at bat, only this time the Tigers were down 6-3. Facing Scott Barlow out of the Royals bullpen, Cabrera worked the count in his favor to 3-1. Barlow came back with a 97 MPH fastball inside to Miggy that was just too tantalizing for him not to swing at, but no contact was made. With the count full, Barlow caught Cabrera looking at a slider right through the heart of the zone to strike him out and end the scoring threat.
Matthew Boyd wasn’t very sharp, and when you pair that with the Royals nickel and dime-ing him all evening you get a pretty rough outing for the veteran lefty. Five was Boyd’s magic number, as in he pitched five innings and struck out five hitters, but also allowed five runs. After allowing two runs in the first inning off a walk and a couple of seeing-eye singles, Boyd seemed to settle in. That success went away in the fourth and the fifth innings, allowing another three runs to end his night.
Brady Singer started for the Royals and struck out six Tigers while allowing three runs on six hits and two walks in six and a third innings of work.
The Tigers offense found themselves down after the first inning, but were able to tie the game on an Akil Baddoo single that scored Miguel Cabrera and Willi Castro. Again in the fifth inning down 4-2 a Baddoo double sent Wilson Ramos to third who scored on a Harold Castro single to pull them to within one. Baddoo had a nice day at the plate, reaching base four times in his four plate appearances, adding a walk in the seventh inning and a single in the ninth.
Other observations from the game include Joe Jimenez’s live fastball and Wilson Ramos’s staggering inability to play catcher despite being a catcher. Jimenez allowed a run in the seventh, but he definitely looked the best that he has all year. That’s not a high bar to clear, but the fastball was sitting around 95 MPH and he struck out two batters to one walk. On the negative side, the would-be strikes that Ramos is failing to receive properly are noticeably piling up and hurting the pitching staff. There were also three wild pitches in the game, but Ramos deserves a large share of the blame for simply not blocking properly. It was Ramos’s first start at catcher since being activated from the injured list, and if we’re lucky, it will end up being his last.