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Tigers Pound Royals ‘Pen in Win


Detroit 8, Kansas City 4 (box)

For six innings, the Detroit Tigers were held at bay by reigning AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and the Kansas City Royals last night at Kauffman Stadium. Once the bullpen doors opened up in the seventh however, three Kansas City pitchers couldn’t close the floodgates.

Detroit had managed just six hits versus Greinke in his six innings of work, then proceeded to rack up another six hits in the seventh inning alone, en route to scoring six runs in that decisive frame.

The Royals fell behind 1-0 when Magglio Ordonez scored on an infield pop-up by Carlos Guillen in the first. Third baseman Willie Bloomquist failed to track the wind-blown ball and saw it glance off his glove and fall safely onto the pitcher’s mound. The Tigers wouldn’t score again against Greinke until the sixth when three straight hits scored a run to cut the Royals’ lead to 4-2.

Tigers started Justin Verlander allowed four runs in his five innings of work. The first two coming on a two-run homer by Yuniesky Betancourt in the second. Verlander had sat down 10 straight Royals before a two-out, two-run rally in the fifth, highlighted by a two-run single from KC first baseman Billy Butler.

The seventh inning began with former Tiger Roman Colon on the hill for the Royals, he allowed a lead-off walk to Scott Sizemore which was followed by a pinch-hit single from Ramon Santiago. Royals manager Trey Hillman had seen enough and Colon was replaced by Robinson Tejada (0-1), another right-hander, whom righties hit just .125 against in 2009.

But the Detroit rally would not be quelled. Austin Jackson lined a double down the left field line, scoring Sizemore, for his first major league hit. With the go-ahead run at second and the tying run at third, Johnny Damon followed with a double of his own, scoring both runners and giving the Tigers a 5-4 lead. Two batters later, Miguel Cabrera brought Damon home with an RBI single and Brandon Inge doubled home two runs against right hander Juan Cruz, the third Royals pitcher of the inning.

Cheers for

  • The Tigers Bullpen– Detroit relievers Joel Zumaya (1-0), Phil Coke, Ryan Perry, and Jose Valverde combined to work four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits.
  • Austin Jackson– Jackson cut down a runner at the plate in the seventh, preserving a four-run Tigers lead and, as mentioned above, he collected his first major league hit, an RBI double. Only 2999 more to go.
  • Doubles– After finishing dead last in the AL in doubles last year, the Tigers got four of them on Opening Day, three in the decisive seventh inning.

Jeers for

  • Justin Verlander– okay maybe this is nit-picking a bit, but when the Royals began to rally in the fifth, Verlander went back to trowing the ball as hard as he could, shelving the idea of actually pitching. This has been his pattern in the past when he gets into trouble, and it’s a strategy that doesn’t seem to work too well.
  • Royals bullpen– In contrast to Detroit’s, three Kansas City relievers allowed six earned runs in the seventh inning, turning a 4-2 lead into an 8-4 loss. Nothing new for Greinke to watch a solid performance go unrewarded.

What’s on tap

The first scheduled off-day of the season happens today so the Tigers will be enjoying some good barbecue. The series resumes tomorrow as the Royals will send right hander Luke Hochevar against Max Scherzer, who will be making his American League debut. In four career games (3 starts) against the Tigers, Hochevar has a 1-2 record and 6.87 ERA. He has allowed 26 hits in 18.1 innings. Scherzer has made one start against Kansas City, he allowed nine hits and two runs over six innings in a victory at Kauffman Stadium last season while a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.