After taking it to the best teams in the game for two weeks, the Tigers had a bit of a letdown game in this one. They were in it all the way, but a few crucial mistakes and poor ABs with runners on doomed their hopes in this one as the Royals won 3-1.
The pre-game celebration for Miguel Cabrera reaching 500 home runs made for an emotional start to the game, with appearances from Willie Horton, Jim Leyland, and other Tigers luminaries. But once the game got started, the Tigers just could not capitalize on their opportunities, while the Royals did.
Casey Mize got the start in this one, on the three inning plan, as usual. He came out and blew right threw the Royals’ order for two innings, but did leak the first run of the game in the third. Ryan O’Hearn led off the inning with a ground ball single back up the middle. Hunter Dozier flew out, but Kyle Isbel doubled down the left field line, allowing O’Hearn to reach third before a Whit Merrifield sacrifice fly brought him home.
Meanwhile, the Tigers were hitting ropes all over the park, but again and again right into the gloves of Royals defenders. They also squandered a great opportunity in the first inning. After Akil Baddoo lined out sharply to right to open the bottom half of the frame, Jonathan Schoop was hit on the hand, and Robbie Grossman drew a walk as Royals’ starter Carlos Hernandez struggled to find his command. Unfortunately, Cabrera grounded out sharply to first base. Jeimer Candelario walked to load the bases, and Harold Castro was at the dish, but he too drilled a line drive to right that Hunter Dozier hauled in with no trouble to turn the Tigers away.
The Tigers got a leadoff single from Schoop in the third, but Robbie Grossman flew out, and Cabrera grounded into a double play.
Jose Ureña came on for Mize in the fourth inning, and he was good. There was a little jam in the fifth, but Ureña got Merrifield to fly out to right to escape. Alex Lange took over for a snappy 1-2-3 sixth, and finally the Tigers got something on the board.
Robbie Grossman led off the bottom of the sixth by drawing a walk, and Cabrera followed with a hard single off Adalberto Mondesi’s glove at third. Candelario and Harold Castro flew out, but Eric Haase drilled a ball down the right field line fair and Grossman came around to score. Haase stumbled on his way to second and the inning ended with him caught in a rundown.
Unfortunately the Royals came right back. With one out in the top of the fifth, Mondesi smoked one to the out of town scoreboard in right-center field and easily raced to third with a triple. O’Hearn followed with a sharp single to score him. A.J. Hinch turned things over to Kyle Funkhouser at that point. Eric Haase recorded the next out by gunning O’Hearn down at second with a beautiful throw after a Funkhouser breaking ball squirted away from him. Dozier lined out to end the inning.
The Tigers played good defense in this one, but the baserunning wasn’t great. The most egregious example came in the bottom of the seventh. Niko Goodrum drilled a double down the right field line, but Ramon Santiago waved him to third as the ball got away from Dozier briefly. Goodrum had already slowed into second base and had to hit the jets, and instead, he should’ve stayed where he was as a strong relay from the Royals gunned him down at third. You know the rule about don’t make the first out of the inning at third? Well of course, Victor Reyes followed with a double down the left field line. Daz Cameron pinch hit against lefty Jake Brentz and got caught looking at strike three, and then Mike Matheny turned things over to Josh Staumont, who punched out Jonathan Schoop to escape the inning.
Derek Holland took over in the eighth, and immediately surrendered a deep triple to center field from Isbel. Merrifield lifted a fly ball, and Isbel tagged and score to make it 3-1. The Tigers weren’t breaking, but time was running short.
And, they kept wasting their chances. Grossman led off with a walk, but Cabrera grounded into another double play. Candelario followed with a walk, but Harold Castro got mowed down on three pitches.
Just like that, a briskly paced game reached the ninth inning, and the Tigers were still behind the eight ball. We got a Joe Jiménez appearance in the top of the ninth. He’d been out with COVID since September 4th, but he looked great. The big right-hander struck out Andrew Benintendi and Carlos Santana, and then got Mondesi down 0-2 and popped him up for a quite dominating performance.
Jiménez’s showing was pretty much the highlight unfortunately. The Tigers were down to their final three outs against KC closer Scott Barlow, and Haase quickly popped out to open the bottom of the ninth. Goodrum grounded out to second, and so did Victor Reyes, and that was that.
Miguel Cabrera night
Here’s a sample of the pre-game ceremonies for Miguel Cabrera achieving the 500 home run mark, including a tribute from Barry Bonds. We also got both Al Avila and Jim Leyland joining the broadcast crew, and it was good to see Jimmy Smokes at the park.
GM Al Avila, who was part of the team that discovered @MiguelCabrera, and former manager Jim Leyland, speak as the @tigers celebrate Cabrera's many accomplishments, including his recent 500th career home run. #DetroitRoots pic.twitter.com/8UsN3SU2Ks— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) September 24, 2021