Justin Verlander(L, 4.98 ERA) started for the Detroit Tigers in the first game of a four game series against the Kansas City Royals and struggled. Verlander started strong with a 10 pitch, one-two-three first inning, but got into trouble in the second, walking Billy Butler and then giving up a single to Alex Gordon, but Verlander was able to escape unscathed after striking out Salvador Perez and getting Lorenzo Cain to flyout to center, on a play misread by Butler, who was doubled off at second to end the inning. Verlander had issues again in the fourth inning, giving up a lead off single to Eric Hosmer, but then getting Butler to ground into a double play. And it was a lucky double play for Verlander, who went on to give up singles to both Gordon and Perez, but got out of the inning without giving up a run.
The wheels fell off for Verlander in the fifth inning, though it is worth noting that aside from the Butler three run double, none of the hits given up were anything more than tricklers that found the right spot. Verlander gave up six hits in the fourth, totaling four runs, with hits by Omar Infante, Hosmer, Butler, and Perez. The inning ended after Butler tried to score from second on the Perez single and was thrown out at the plate by Davis.
Verlander was back out for the sixth inning, and again had issues. After giving up a double and a walk to Cain and Nori Aoki, respectively, Verlander gave up a three run homer to former Tiger Infante. His outing was over at the end of the sixth with a line of: 6IP, 12H, 7R, 2BB, 2K.
Evan Reed relieved Verlander and started the seventh with a single to Butler and a Gordon double, then a fielding error by rookie Suarez loaded the bases with no one out. Cain then singled to score Butler, and Mike Moustakas reached first then advanced to second on a throwing error by Reed which also scored two runs. Alcides Escobar singled to score Cain which, mercifully, ended Reed’s evening. Blaine Hardy made his major league debut to record three consecutive outs, including two strike outs, to end the inning with only four of Reed’s runners scoring.
Blaine Hardy was back out for the eighth inning and after retiring the first two batters, he gave up two bases on balls and a single before getting the final out.
Phil Coke pitched a scoreless one-two-three ninth inning with a strike out.
Rajai Davis singled to lead off the first inning and then appeared to be picked off first. Davis showed his impressive speed and beat the throw, notching his 20th steal of the season, but was stranded. After failing to score with a runner in scoring position in the first inning, the Tigers got on the board with an Alex Avila single, a sac bunt by Eugenio Suarez and a double by Davis but were unable to put any additional runs on the board in the thirdThe Tigers scored again in the fourth inning when Victor Martinez led off with a single, then moved to second on a single by Torii Hunter. Hunter left the game after the single with a hamstring cramp and was replaced by J.D. Martinez. Austin Jackson then singled to plate Martinez, but the Tigers were stopped after adding only one additional run.
The Tigers had a scoring opportunity in the sixth, with a lead off walk issued to Miguel Cabrera, who moved to second on a Victor Martinez flyout. Royals center fielder, Lorenzo Cain then made an amazing diving catch on a J.D. Martinez gapper and the Tigers were held off the board yet again.
The Tigers staged a massive comeback in the ninth inning, missing the bats of Kinsler and Cabrera. Nick Castellanos led off with a double followed by a single by Andrew Romine, who pinch hit for Avila, and then Suarez walked to load the bases. Davis singled to score Castellanos, then both Kelly and Holaday struck out before J.D. Martinez hit a grand slam home run. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late and Jackson struck out to end the rally and the game.
The Tigers play the Royals again tomorrow at 7:08pm.
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