Kansas City 5, Detroit 7 (box)
Zack Greinke just doesn’t get a whole lot of run support in most of his starts. On Monday, his Royals teammates gave him five runs and a lead headed into the bottom of the sixth, but Greinke couldn’t make it stand up.
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead when Ramon Santiago singled home a run after two were out in the second. Three consecutive singled lead to another run in the third and two more came home on a single by Alex Avila later in that inning. But the Royals took advantage of some good luck and some bad pitches by Tigers starter Rick Porcello.
Kansas City started the fifth with back-to-back singles before Yuniesky Betancourt slammed his career-best 17th hopme run and cutting the Tigers lead to one. The next three Royals all singled, which loaded the bases with still no one out. Porcello was able to get a groundball double play, but a run scored on the play to tie the score. They took the lead when Wilson Betemit legged out an infield hit.
Just like that, the Tigers went from cruising against the reigning Cy Young winner to trailing him at home, but this team showed its fight in the Chicago series and they had one more comeback in them. The heroics were provided by the smallest guy on the field.
With a runner at first and two away in the sixth, Greinke faced Tigers rookie Will Rhymes. Rhymes caught a fastball down and in and dropped the head on it. The ball carried over the outstretched glove of Mitch Maier in right and off a railing that rests beyond the top of the wall. The ball was originaly ruled a triple, but after review confirmed it, Rhymes was able to finish his first career home run trot. That two-run shot would prove to be the difference in the game.
Still with a beaten-up bullpen, the Tigers could have used another run and Alex Avila, who had earlier made an outstanding catch while falling into the Royals, connected against Jesse Chavez for a solo homer into the Tigers bullpen. Phil Coke caught that ball, Avila’s third hit and third RBI of the game, and eventually it was Coke who closed out the win for the Tigers, striking out pinch-hitter Josh Fields to end the game.
Clearly, the night belonged to Rhymes. After his well-documented Taco Fiasco earlier in the day, Rhymes put the Tigers ahead for good with his homer in the sixth. Not bad at all. kid. You hit your first bomb and do it against the Cy Young winner.
Other performing well in this game included Brad Thomas, who effectively stemmed the tide when the Royals were threatening to blow the game open in the sixth and shut out Kansas City for 1.2 innings. Avila, as mentioned above, was very good and looks like he might yet become the Tigers regular catcher going forward. It was also nice to see Coke get back on the horse after stinking up the place so badly on Sunday.
You probably don’t want to read too much into these games, but it’s nice to see the kids playing so well. Casper Wells probably saved a run by gunning down Kila Ka’aihue on what should have been a double and Daniel Schlereth is looking like he’s getting more comfortable as a big league pitcher. Schlereth in particular could be huge for the Tigers next year, especially if they convert Coke into a starter.